Zach Matthews ’17
Talk with ICU nurse Zach Matthews ’17, and you will hear energy and determination in his voice. He works in the COVID-19 unit at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he and his team are on the front line of coronavirus patient care.
Despite the high level of anxiety and stress in the hospital right now, Zach is nothing if not well-prepared, which he attributes in large part to his nursing education at UNCG.
“I really got excellent clinical experience at UNCG, and a lot of it,” Zach says. “Because of that and the awesome instructors I had, I’ve always felt like I was a few steps ahead.”
Zach’s mother, a wound ostomy nurse, also graduated from UNCG’s nursing program. When it was time for him to go to college, her career in medicine and his proximity to Greensboro from having grown up in Winston-Salem were factors in considering UNCG. Overall, Zach found UNCG’s School of Nursing to be both welcoming and genuinely interested in his success. When he was offered The Susan Morris Safran Merit Scholarship in Nursing, his choice was clear.
“Being awarded the scholarship indicated to me that UNCG really wanted me to succeed. Not only did it reduce financial concerns, but without it I likely would have had to commute to classes. Because I was on campus, I was able to be more present and focused on my studies.”
Susan Morris Safran ’77 BSN established the scholarship to support UNCG students declaring a major in nursing through the University’s Merit Awards Program. While there are many programs in higher education that provide assistance for students with the greatest need, there are far fewer merit awards than there are qualified students. Zach is grateful to have received the Safran Scholarship for all four years of his attendance at UNCG.
“I met Mrs. Safran at the School of Nursing donor/scholar luncheon and also at a university-wide event. Learning about her work as a critical care nurse and the business she started for cardiac event training really inspired me. I can’t thank Mrs. Safran enough for her generosity and support while I was at UNCG.”
In dealing with COVID-19 patients, Zach’s ICU team has learned to “expect the unexpected” and respond with creativity and compassion. It’s work he has been trained and educated to do, work he knows is his calling. And despite the daily challenges of attending to critically ill patients who are separated from their families, there are moments of triumph.
“Seeing people recover is inspiring,” says Zach. “When they leave the ICU, they are one step closer to home, and that fills me with a sense of accomplishment.”
Story by Chris Garton, Donor Relations
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