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Black History Month: Nickerson makes his mark

Graphic that reads Celebrating Black History Month with photo of Corian Nickerson.
(Graphic by UTHealth Houston)

Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of February, UTHealth Houston will highlight stories of students who share the vision and reflect on the people who influenced who they are today. 

A burning desire to help others has always been the calling card for Houston native Corian Nickerson.

A first-generation student at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston, Nickerson is currently working toward his Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He is among the 24 university fellows in the UTHealthLeads program, which trains participants to develop self-awareness, increase leadership confidence, lead others, and effectively influence systems.

From a young age, Nickerson had the ambition to aid others  he just wasn’t sure of the avenue that fit him best.

“In my youth, I had an interest in nursing, but at that time there were not many male nurses and I allowed it to shift my perspective in a way that made it seem like it was not a good fit for me,” Nickerson said. “I sought other careers in health care, and as I continued my education, I spoke with friends, professors, and colleagues who helped me realize that nursing was the field that I should have been in all along.”

Along the way, Nickerson gained prior studies in science and communication. He also grew a passion for teaching and took up tutoring, something he has now done for over a decade, finding joy in helping others learn.

Nickerson, who is also an avid Afro-Latin dancer, credits his family and history for helping mold him.   

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for my mom, Robin McLendon,” Nickerson said. “My work ethic, values, and who I am as a person are because of her parenting. From her, throughout the years, I have received nothing but support and encouragement to pursue my dreams.”

In addition to his mother, Nickerson said his dad, Joseph Phillips, taught him lessons that developed him into the man he is today.

Nickerson also takes inspiration from Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a 19th-century Black surgeon, who, like Nickerson, worked in different fields before beginning his career in medicine.

“He had a passion for helping others and creating opportunities for them,” Nickerson said. “He is known for opening Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, the first Black-owned and operated hospital in America. It allowed for the continued education of nurses of color at the time and the treatment of patients who may otherwise have not been able to seek health care.”

With an abundance of gained knowledge and life experiences, Nickerson hopes to continue making a difference in people’s lives.

“My ultimate goal is to continue my education,” Nickerson said. “I will finish my BSN this year, but as I gain experience in the field of nursing I hope to continue working toward becoming a doctor of nursing practice. I truly enjoy caring for others and continuing my education will help me provide better outcomes for those in my care. I still find joy in teaching, and perhaps someday I will help in teaching the next generation of nurses.”

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