Pipe Dream spoke to Shantay Carter, ‘00, a nurse and the CEO of Women of Integrity, Inc. Carter graduated from Binghamton University with a bachelors of science in nursing and started her career at UHS Binghamton General Hospital. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Can you describe your motivations and path to becoming a nurse, including the obstacles you faced along the way?

A: “My motivation to get into health care was the fact that my grandmother had passed away from brain cancer. So originally, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. But then, you know, reality hit that I didn’t like math. My guidance counselor told me, ‘You didn’t like math.’ I was like, ‘Yeah that’s true.’ So he said check out nursing, and then I did some of that time that I’ve gone into nursing, but I don’t regret it. It’s been the best decision ever. You know, nursing is a tough program, no matter where you go, and you will always meet challenges in the program. I’ve had challenges where, sometimes, if you’re struggling with the subject, it’s just you have to kind of remember to keep your eye on the prize and that you’re going to graduate and get out to be of service to others. So I just would go and get extra help, and do whatever I needed to do to make sure that I passed the class. But by the time I got to Binghamton I was grateful for the programs like [the] Mary E. Mahoney [Support Group] and [the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program] that kind of helped me whenever I was struggling.”

Q: What was the most rewarding part about being a nurse to you?

A: “The most rewarding part I think, is just being able to watch patients you know. They come in sick or for me right after having surgery, and then being able to give them [the] care that they need to get better to be able to go home and just really [being] able to see the change in a patient that can happen literally at my 12-hour shift — or in the two days back-to-back that I’m working — you can kind of see the progression of a patient. So that always amazed me to kind of be able to be a part of the journey.”

Q: What led you to create your nonprofit, Women of Integrity, Inc. and where do you hope to see it go in the future?

A: “So Women of Integrity, [Inc.] came about kind of out of necessity. I had just gone through a bad breakup and kind of fell into a depression, and so I needed to kind of channel that negative energy into something positive. So you know, just when I sit in my basement, it’s like, what can I do, and this came about. I know I said I liked helping young people. I was a [resident assistant] while I was here. So it kind of gave me the background skills, but I just knew I wanted to be and make a difference — and I always [liked[ working. I think going through the breakup made me want to be able to impart what I’ve learned from that to younger girls. They wouldn’t have to go to that or the women just in general, and I kind of think that’s what made me spark the spark that made me create the nonprofit. So I always tell people that Women of Integrity, [Inc.] saved my life. This year, we celebrate 13 years [and] we’ve been able to service hundreds of girls over the years.”

Q: Can you describe your book, “Destined for Greatness” and how you hope your readers are impacted by it?

A: “So “Destined for Greatness” is like an anthology of myself and nine other nurses, where we share our journey of how we got into nursing a little bit but then how we started our businesses. I was the only one really that had a nonprofit — everyone else had a for-profit business. So I talk a little bit about my nursing journey, but then what led me to create Women of Integrity, [Inc.]. So my goal, if anyone is reading that book, is to understand that especially for nurses and the nursing aspect, is that you’re more than a nurse, and not to let the job kind of define who you are — and that we need to understand that our purpose is just bigger than at bedside rather than nursing, and to kind of help them to maybe want to branch out and start their own businesses.”

Q: What do you hope students take away from your TEDx Talk?

A: “I hope that when they hear my message they take away that you can overcome any challenge or adversity. Just we have to utilize some strategies, implement them to be able to do it. But also to know that sometimes, we’re gonna go to pain, but at the end of that journey, you can come out to be a better person, stronger, powerful, and that sometimes the pain can — you can learn to turn your pain into your power. So me going through the breakup, there was my pain for Women of Integrity, [Inc.] but then creating Women of Integrity, [Inc.] was my power, and now it’s made me stronger, more resilient and a better woman. So knowing that you can turn your pain into your power, it’s kind of really well into the mindset, and what you do, of course, you [have] got to give yourself time to heal and give yourself grace.”