Rising Scholar Briana Hawkins
Prioritizing Student Success

Stark Rising Scholar Pursues Dream

Rising Scholar Briana Hawkins is pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. A junior at Kent State University at Stark, Briana’s nursing training has helped her in unexpected ways as she cared for her mother after she suffered burns in a household accident.

As a Rising Scholar, Briana is the first in her family to pursue a college education. This trailblazing Canton McKinley High School graduate is intent on seizing this opportunity and moving her family forward.

When Briana decided to become a nurse, she had no way of knowing her education would soon become her lifeline, enabling her to care for her mother who suffered severe burns when her hair caught fire as she was blowing out a candle. The accident left her mother with full and partial burns so severe she was treated at the Akron Children’s Hospital Burn Unit.

Briana’s world changed in an instant as she became her mother’s caregiver and took on the responsibility of caring for her younger sister. “It was absolutely traumatizing,” Briana said. “But just having me there to do the dressing changes really helped her. And when the incident happened, I knew how to hold my emotions together. Being a nursing major really helped me to know what to do — and how to cope.”

Bills began piling up for her single mother, who was unable to work. But thanks to support from the Kent State University at Stark Emergency Relief Fund, which provides financial assistance for crucial expenses, Briana was able to continue her education knowing that her basic needs were secure.

She encourages fellow students to seek help when faced with difficulties, no matter how minor or significant they might seem. Briana understands that it can be challenging to ask for assistance, but she stresses the importance of seeking support from university resources. She believes that everyone faces tough times in life, and there should be no stigma around seeking help.

“I know sometimes it can be embarrassing, or you don’t want to ask for help. But that’s what the help is there for,” she said. “You shouldn’t feel embarrassed because everyone has a point in their life where they need help, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask.”