Senior Spotlight: Sierra Martinsen is Translating Passion into Purpose

Sierra Martinsen sits in a chair wearing medical scrubs
Sierra Martinsen was named 2024's Outstanding Bachelor of Science in Nursing award winner (Photo by Makoa de Almeida)
May 09, 2024
Lucy Klebeck ('23)

This piece is part of our Senior Stories series, in which we highlight GU students throughout the year.

Name: Sierra Martinsen

Studies: Nursing, minor in Spanish and Comprehensive Leadership Program

Hometown: Sammamish, Washington

Starting in middle school Sierra Martinsen knew she wanted to be a nurse. Gonzaga happened to be just the place to pursue her dream.

“I was just drawn to the ‘nursing personality’ if you will, and I knew that if I could ever get to a point of being [a nurse] that I would be the coolest person ever,” Martinsen says.

She was drawn to Gonzaga’s community and the direct admission nursing program, which allowed her to start working toward her nursing degree from day one of college.

She’s also pursuing dual minors. One in Spanish allows her to continue her love of language learning and bolsters her accessibility as a nurse.

While working in hospitals during clinicals Martinsen noticed that it can be difficult to find a translator, “so if you’re able to make general conversation with a patient I feel like sometimes that can be really helpful in making them feel safe and supported,” Martinsen says.

Her other minor is in comprehensive leadership as a part of the Comprehensive Leadership Program (CLP). First-year students apply during their fall semester and begin the program the following spring semester.

To Martinsen it was a way “to develop more as a person as opposed to just a nurse or just learning a language, more like cura personalis,” as well as an opportunity to continue the leadership training she began in high school.

Outside of academics, Martinsen, formally the underclassmen rep, is now the president of Gonzaga’s Student Nurses Association (GSNA). When she assumed that role she realized that the group was not functioning at its full potential, primarily due to a lack of awareness or interest in the club post-COVID.

“One of the things that I’ve been trying to do as president is get feedback from people and make it into something that our members actually want to devote their free time to,” Martinsen says.

Since taking that role in January 2023, Martinsen has implemented activities including group study sessions, human physiology and anatomy bingo, movie nights and service events. These supplement the talks from nurses who share their experience.

Martinsen has also taken advantage of Gonzaga’s study abroad opportunities, studying Fall 2022 in Florence and Summer 2023 in Zambia. Both experiences led her to think about one day living abroad and nursing.

“Having already lived abroad made me realize that you can make a community anywhere,” says Martinsen. She mentions the UK, Spain and Latin America as potential prospects.

For now, Martinsen will walk in May before completing her last semester of nursing school next fall. She plans on choosing labor and delivery for her practicum and may seek out residency in labor and delivery post-graduation depending on how her practicum experience goes.

Middle-school Sierra would be proud.

Learn about more of our great graduating seniors!
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