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Behind the scenes of ‘College Tour’ with Nikola Gigovski

Male nursing student in front of camera.
male student and female professor work on a health mannequin

UIC Nursing student guides ‘College Tour’ film crew through Schwartz Lab

When Nikola Gigovski, BSN ’23, stepped foot on the UIC campus as a freshman, he was the first in his family to go to college.

“I had no idea what college was going to be like,” recalls Gigovski, who grew up in Crystal Lake and Schaumburg, Illinois. “My parents didn’t go to college. It was a tremendous amount of stress. I wanted to do everything as best I could. I wanted to be a really good example that my little siblings could look up to.”

Four years later, in his final semester at UIC and about to graduate from the College of Nursing, the opportunity came up to take part in an episode of “The College Tour,” a high-energy, 30-minute tour of UIC through the eyes of 11 students in disciplines ranging from communications to business to computer science.

Gigovski jumped on the chance to share what it’s like to be a UIC College of Nursing student – and hopefully, to make the transition to college a little easier for future students.

The episode is available now on YouTube and will air on Amazon Prime in October.

UIC: How did you find out about the show? What made you want to apply?

Nikola Gigovski [NG]: A [staffer] at the College of Nursing cc’d me on an email about it. She was like, “I think it’d be great for you to do this.” I remember her telling me, “The majority of people in nursing program are women, so it’d be great for you to show some diversity.”

What was the experience of shooting it like?

I was so nervous, but it was really, really fun. Dr. [Katie] Vanderzwan [DNP ’17, MS ’06, interim director of the Schwartz Simulation Lab] and classmates from my cohort were nice enough to come on the shooting day and help me out by being “extras” in the Schwartz Lab. It was a really nice collaborative effort. My cohort are rockstars.

Group of people stand for portrait in front of red and white sign

Why did you want to be a nurse?

Originally, when I came to UIC, I came here for pre-med and medicine. I got my CNA license in high school and started working in nursing homes in my first year at UIC. After a week or two of working as a CNA, something in my heart or my mind just clicked. I’m like, “I need to pursue nursing. This is my calling.” The next day, I went to my academic advisor and I switched to nursing.

Fast forward to now: I can tell you it was one of, if not the best, decision I’ve made so far in my life.

Why did you choose UIC?

I really wanted to be close to home. I grew up in Illinois. I wanted to be there for my family. I still have younger brothers and sisters growing up at home. When I came to the realization that I wanted to be a nurse, I looked at all the programs in Chicago, and UIC was the best school in Illinois.

If I was going to do something, then I wanted to do it right, and I wanted to go at it as hard as I could. I stayed at UIC.

Tell us about your experience as a UIC Nursing student?

I think every nursing student can agree when I say it’s stressful. At the same time, it was one of the best opportunities I’ve had. To be able to go to so many different hospitals, and to be able to gain so much experience, in such a short amount of time, is nothing short of amazing,

I had never been pushed so hard academically in my entire life. That was a really scary realization, but it also got me more excited than I’ve ever been, because I was finally able to see how much I could learn and grow – how much I could succeed. It truly felt like there was no ceiling, and there was always more to learn.

I was really big on establishing connections. I really wanted to make my mark. We have three [undergraduate] organizations in the College of Nursing that are student led: Student Council, Urban Health Program College of Nursing Student Association [UCONSA] and the Student Nurses’ Association – UIC Chapter. I sat on the executive boards of all three organizations.

What has been your reaction to seeing the episode? What about family and friends?

For me, it was very, very impactful. I think about what it was like being a first-generation student coming to UIC for my first year. I had no idea what college was going to be like. My parents didn’t go to college. It was a tremendous amount of stress. I wanted to do everything right. I wanted to do everything as best I could. I wanted to be a really good example that my little siblings could look up to. After all of my years of hard work, to be part of this thing that could hopefully inspire others to come to UIC and be part of the community here was so meaningful.

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