Cumberland University


Diana Ismail: Finding Her Confidence

Rick Brown
by Shauna Lynn Photography

Cumberland University almost lost Diana Ismail. A Nursing major with an interest in pediatric and travel healthcare, the junior student originally planned to attend a large Nashville college. Just before the semester began, however, a letter arrived bearing a Cumberland University return address.

“I received a letter from Cumberland saying I’d been accepted when I’d already registered and was planning on going to classes the next week,” said Ismail. “But I’d always heard good things about the college, so I decided to go to Cumberland instead.”

The decision was a fateful one. Soon after arriving at Cumberland in August 2010, the New York native began to find her calling. In the close student and faculty bonds of Cumberland’s Rudy School of Nursing, Ismail found a personal attention that allowed her to shine.

"With my classmates, I love them all. We really help each other,” said Ismail. “And you always have a way to get in touch with the professors. With [Instructor Diane] Thorup, anytime I feel down, I just go to her office, and she just gives it to you real.”

That closeness was not limited to Ismail’s classroom activities. Having spent most of her life in cosmopolitan cities such as New York and Seattle, the Muslim-American was pleasantly surprised to find Cumberland’s small campus held not only a receptive community of students, but also a small group of Muslim nursing scholars.

“People have been really respectful. Because there are four of five of us in the program, we also have mutual support,” said Ismail. “I’ve felt welcome here.”

In that atmosphere, the nursing student has become not only a successful scholar, but a leader. A member of the Student Nursing Association and a regular organizer of study groups, the well-traveled Ismail is a powerful presence in and out of the classroom.

Having spent a year at Cumberland, the scholar has also discovered a passion for nursing subjects ranging from pharmacology to flight nursing. On a day-to-day basis, however, the focused Ismail “lives in the library,” studying between clinical rotations and health assessments. Though the work is hard, she knows the rewards are more than worth the effort.

“Being a nursing student is very hectic; you study, study, and study. But I feel like I’ve learned so much even at this point, about patient care and clinical settings,” said Ismail. “I’ve gained so much more confidence now than when I started.”

Ismail hopes to apply that same confidence to her profession once she graduates in 2012. For now, however, whenever Ismail finds herself at a crossroads during a semester, she knows she has a place to rediscover her confidence.

“A few weeks before one semester started, I went to Ms. Thorup and told her I was worried about the condensed schedule. And she said to me, ‘You know what, honey, just go up there and look up at the faces. I don’t think any one of them is smarter than you.’ In the Nursing building, there are pictures of past students who have graduated. That made me feel better all at once. She said, ‘It’s hard, but you can do it.’”

If Ismail’s previous successes are any indication, it is almost certain that the nursing major will do just that.