Vandegrift Alumni gets job as a NICU nurse


Submitted by: Haleigh Heath

Haleigh Heath celebrates her accomplishments and how she was able to get to her dream of being a nurse in the NICU

Taylor Chronert, Staff Reporter

As a child, Vandegrift alumna, Haleigh Heath always knew that she wanted to do something in the medical field. She’s always believed that nursing was super special because you get to spend so much time with the patients and develop a relationship with them.

“I always knew I wanted to do something medical, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a nurse or a doctor,” Heath said

Recently, Heath announced on her Instagram that she accepted her dream job of being a NICU Nurse and is going to work at Medical City Arlington in Dallas starting in July. 

“I accepted the job last week and am super excited to work there,” Heath said. “They are a Level 3 NICU which is just below the highest level. There are 36 beds, which is pretty big, it’s a state at the art facility and the NICU opened like two years ago, so they have all the new high tech and stuff.”

What led Heath to her decision to be a nurse was that she likes to help people. 

“People come to you on their worst day ever and we are like the people who are with them the whole time and we get to help them,” Heath said. “We get to see them through their journey and see them go home, because not only do we help them with their physical but with their mental as well, and we just want them to have a good experience in the hospital.

At Vandegrift, Heath took many different medical classes to help her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse. She took anatomy, physiology, and all the basic science classes. She was also involved in soccer and PALS.

“I didn’t have the chance to take Principles of BioMedical Science because I went to school in Florida for a year when I was a freshman for soccer, and classes were a little different compared to Vandegrift’s,” Heath said. “I also wasn’t involved in too much because soccer and PALS took up a lot of time.”

Heath said that her favorite part about Vandegrift was all the school traditions.

“Vandegrift is a very tradition based school because of Matthew Vandegrift and stuff like that,” Heath said. “I kinda like how everything at Vandegrift is aimed to be Second to None which is like a really good mentality and putting others first, like Matthew Vandegrift did.”

Heath graduated from Vandegrift in 2017, and a few months before her graduation, she signed and committed to playing soccer at Abilene Christian University.

“I was super excited because I love soccer, but it was also pretty scary because I didn’t know what college soccer was going to be like,” Heath said. “It was super exciting as well as a great experience. I met so many different girls and I ended up living with one of the girls from the team for all four years. I unfortunately didn’t play my last year because of nursing school and we had to do our internship, but I played for three and a half years.

In college, Heath took chemistry, another anatomy and physiology class, microbiology, and statistics, which got her into Abilene Christian University School of Nursing.

“I did two years of prerequisites and then two years of nursing school,” Heath said. “Each semester you focus on a different area of nursing. This final semester was our critical care semester and last semester was maternity and pediatrics. The maternity and pediatric semester was my favorite because I got to help with a lot of deliveries and work in the NICU. It’s a lot of studying and time but it is so worth it in the end.”

Even though Heath really enjoyed ACU, she is looking forward to graduating this year and starting her job.

“I’m excited for graduation and I’m excited to start my new job, but obviously I’m a little nervous,” Heath said. “Getting thrown out there by yourself is kinda scary, but I definitely think ACU has prepared me for that.”

What Heath is looking forward to the most about working in the NICU is getting to take care of all the babies. 

“These babies are so small, they are like one or two pounds because they are born so early,” Heath said. “I also think it’s cool that we get to do these procedures on the smallest babies and help them go home to their parents, which is super sweet.”

Heath says the person who supported her the most through her hard work of wanting to be a nurse was her dad, Michael Heath, a current Assistant Principal at Vandegrift.

“He’s always pushed me to do my best and to go for the highest you can,” Heath said. “Getting into the NICU as a new graduate plus keeping a 4.0 GPA through college while playing soccer is super hard. He’s helped me through a lot plus with school. He was the first person I called when I found out and he was super excited.”

The advice Heath would give to people who want to be like her and follow their dreams, is to just go for it. 

“You can do more than you think you can, like if there is something you really want to do, do it.” Heath said. “Definitely start it in high school, reach out to your teachers because connections really help, especially when you’re trying to find a job. So if you want to do something, go for it. Always better to shoot high, and you may surprise yourself.”