Southeast junior, Spencer Mares of St. Peters, Mo., was diagnosed with leukemia on
June 17, 1991, at the very young age of three. He battled through two and a half
years of chemotherapy and finished in December 1993. He then relapsed 15 months later
in March 1995 when he was seven. Spencer underwent two more years of chemotherapy
plus 13 days of radiation. He finished May 6, 1997.
“Being sick is the reason I went into nursing,” Spencer said. “I received outstanding care at St. Louis Children's Hospital and now it's my turn to give back.”
Spencer says that his experiences from his childhood have made nursing school slightly easier.
“During my pharmacology class last spring, the professor, Dr. Kathy Ham, asked ‘Did you take this drug too?’ and all I could do was smile and say, ‘Yes!’ I later got an A in that class,” Spencer said.
Spencer hopes to use the fundamentals of various studies that he has learned at Southeast when he eventually returns back to school to earn a master’s degree in nursing and later become an adult nurse practitioner.
“I hope to someday be able to use my nursing career to impact as many people as I can,” Spencer said. “It is very rewarding to look back on a case and say I was there and I helped them.”
Over spring break last year, Spencer received the opportunity to travel to London and Paris with other Southeast students as well as students from the University of Central Missouri. This trip was for his class UI 343, and was only open to four nursing students.
While Spencer was there, he had the opportunity to see the musical “Wicked” in London, the famous Beatles stop, Abbey Road, visited Platform 9 3/4 in King's Cross Train Station where the Harry Potter movies were filmed, and had the opportunity to view Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
“There are so many memories I have from that trip,” Spencer said. “On our second day in London, we saw the Queen of England. We were in the Nightingale Museum and a girl from my nursing class overheard someone say that the Queen was going to be at Westminster Abbey soon. The Nightingale Museum is attached to St. Thomas Hospital which overlooks Parliament and Westminster Abbey from the river. So we walked across the bridge and stood next to all the people as the Queen's escort of cars approached and dropped her and her guards off out in front.”
When Spencer isn’t busy with class or traveling the world, he enjoys swimming, baseball and watching the St. Louis Cardinals. He particularly enjoys working with political leaders and volunteers through Southeast’s College Republicans chapter. He says this has given him the opportunity to be out in the community which has allowed him to meet very interesting people.
Spencer would like to provide this advice to future Southeast students: “Enjoy college to its fullest because there is nothing like it. College is the time to meet all kinds of people and learn from them. Also, take advantage of a big opportunity, such as traveling abroad, because one never knows when this will come up again in life.”