Shyla Roberts

Shyla Roberts

President's Scholar

College of Applied Sciences and Arts


Why did you choose your major?

Becoming a nurse was one of those things that was always in the back of my mind. I started at a community college after attending a continuation high school. I pursued teaching at first, mainly because I was scared to pursue Nursing with having to give people shots. One day I decided to sign up for an anatomy class and that’s where it all started. I knew my love for science would only continue to grow. I love the human body and even more than that, I love being there for people when they are at their most vulnerable. Unfortunately, my family and I have spent a lot of time around hospitals. The nurses are the people who stood out to me with compassion and support, and I am excited to be that person for someone else.


What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

I am extremely honored to be receiving the President’s Scholar Award. It reminds me of how hard I have worked and that it does pay off. I received the Dean’s Scholar last year and I was determined to work harder and achieve this award. Each time I receive recognition, I am motivated to go even further.


Who has been influential in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic success?

There are many influential people in my life. The most influential people are my grandmother, Suzanne and my father, George. I have learned from them how to overcome many hardships and how to come out shining brighter than before. I can attribute my academic success to all of my instructors, with a few that have had a truly special impact: Arlene Spilker, Teri Lind, Dr. Abriam-Yago, Dr. Ruth Rosenblum, and Debrayh Gaylle. These ladies are all inspirational in their own ways and they have been there to guide me and to support me during the highlights of my nursing school career as well as for the struggles. I also could not have done this without my friends, and especially not without by boyfriend Evan Ditmars and his amazingly supportive family.


Did you overcome any hardships or adversities in your life that have helped shape who you are today?  And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?

Growing up I was the oldest of four children. My father was a single dad because my mother was involved in drugs and other unsafe activities. My siblings and I experienced a brief period of being in foster care. My grandmother, my aunt and my uncle took us into their homes and I believe this saved us. My Dad was able to raise us all together not too long after this. I lost my mother to a car accident when I was 10 or 11 years old, which was still hard though I did not really know her.
When I was in high school we started moving around a lot, mostly due to financial instability. We lived often lived in hotels and we even camped when we didn’t have a place to stay. There were periods of stability but nothing that lasted longer than a year. We moved to Watsonville when I was 17 and I was able to get a job at the Boardwalk and start to help my family financially. This is where my independence started.
I finished up High School at a continuation school because I had missed a lot of school due to moving as well as personal health issues. I got myself into Cabrillo College and maintained 2 jobs for the three years I was there. I was faced with the challenge of having to move again so I moved out on my own. I worked hard and got myself accepted to SJSU and the Nursing Program. Family trouble continued to happen all around me and I have experienced the loss of a few people very close to me. Every little thing that happens challenges me, but it also pushes me. I have overcome these challenges and for my family and myself I will be successful.

At times when it all seems like too much, I have found support from the amazing faculty in the Nursing Program. With family losses and hospitalizations, my passion for nursing continues to grow stronger and stronger. I have worked to get where I am today and it makes me even more proud to see my dreams come to life. My dad is my biggest fan!


What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

I have seen so many people overcome really hard battles in life and manage to attain academic excellence. I would tell students that you really can do whatever you put your mind to. If you want success in your future, do your best to make sure you have done everything in your power to ensure it. Look to your professors for support and guidance, or find that one person or group of people you can always turn to. There are few greater feelings than seeing your hard work pay off.


How do you envision yourself in 5-10 years?

In 5-10 years I envision myself working in a nursing career. I plan to continue my education and I hope to become a Nurse Practitioner. I honestly hope that I can start a family of my own in this time period and bring them along for the ride. I am a lifelong learner so it is guaranteed that I will be furthering my education in any way possible.


 Nominated by Professor Teri Lind