Ready to Show Up: SGA President Shay Godley 

Published 7:25 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

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WASHINGTON, N.C.— At 27 approaching 30, in her words, SháQuandra “Shay” Godley is ready to step into leadership, and she is excited to help more women step into the medical field. The nursing student is serving as the new president of Beaufort County Community College’s Student Government Association (SGA). The insatiable learner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, but her interest in child development shifted from the psychological to physical, leading her back to college to pursue a nursing degree.

“I am super intrigued with learning. That’s my jam,” says Godley. “If you give me something new, I am going to soak it up. It’s probably going to keep me up at night because my wheels are still going be turning. Sitting and just being stagnant, it’s just boring to me, and I don’t want to live a boring life. I want to be moving. I want to learn new things; experience new things.”

“I probably will go back to school after this,” she laughs, acknowledging that BCCC may not be her last college.

Fascinated by child development, she initially pursued psychology. She earned an Associate in Science from the University of Mount Olive and then earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from East Carolina University. Even before she graduated though, her interest started to shift from the mind to the body, but additional medical courses would have added three years to her education. She made the decision to complete her bachelor’s degree and pursue a second degree at a later date.

After graduation, she worked at her family’s nonprofit youth development center during the disruptions of the COVID pandemic, and then as a receptionist at a Doggie Daycare. Shortly after, she returned to psychology doing therapy for Behavioral Consultation and Psychological Services, working with children with autism.

This new career reinforced the shift she had started into medicine. She started taking her pre-nursing courses at BCCC, and instead of psychological development, she became more interested in the physical development of young women and supporting their needs. This shift came from her own adverse visits to the gynecologist, where she felt strained to connect with her provider.

“I feel like younger women don’t have a face they can relate to when they go to the OBGYN,” she says. “You have these older women who you think you can maybe relate to, but they aren’t your age, so you’re like, ‘do I want to tell them about my business?’”

With comprehensive sex education lacking in schools, the OBGYN is often the first source of information for young women. “We don’t have those figures who sit down and talk to us about the birds and the bees. So typically, when we become of age and go to the OBGYN, that is our first source of vital information about our bodies. Besides the typical research we do on Google, we don’t really know anything until we experience something.”

Godley was raised by her grandmothers, and this bigger age gap and contrasting generations made sex-positive talks more challenging. With young women not feeling comfortable about discussing issues with an unfamiliar physician, a small medical concern can grow into a bigger problem.

A contrary experience occurred when she visited a compassionate physician who was of the same ethnicity and only a few years older than her.

“She sits down, and she says to me, ‘What you’re experiencing is normal.’ Just to have someone make you feel normal was like, wow, you’re my superhero.” This reassuring conversation pushed her on a path to women’s health.

In returning to college, everything else in her life has fallen into place around her nursing school schedule. The SGA president also works as a tutor for TRIO Support Services on campus, serves as vice president of the BCCC Environmental Alliance, a devoted wife, and she is heavily involved in her church.

“Cross out the things you don’t like,” she advises those with busy schedules. “If it’s on your schedule and it’s a major part of your life, it needs to feed into your soul. It needs to bleed who you are. When you’re 80 years old, you need to say, ‘I lived a fulfilling life.’”

Nursing school has given her the structure to take on so much. “These instructors are amazing,” she says. “Everything is color coded. They have a calendar four months out. They can tell you where you’re going to go, what time you’re going to get out. It’s an organizer’s dream. I know where to place everything in my life now.”

The busy schedule does not stop there. She serves as a full-time aunt to her three-year-old niece, trading weekends off with her mother. She took on this task around the same time she got married and started nursing school. Her brother is incarcerated, and she wants to help fill those shoes as much as possible. “I have to be what he can’t be right now. It may be going out to the park now [with her niece] instead of going to the movies.”

They have dedicated time together, and her niece’s favorite time with her is at church, so it falls in line with her own passion. Godley’s own father was ill at her time of birth and not present when she was growing up, so she understands the importance of stepping in.

It has taken her work to get where she is, so she resents it when people see her as being perfectly put together. “That kind of takes the soul out of everything, like I need you to feel me.” She wants people to see the process and the person behind her image.

All that personal work means that she has built the foundation to be a strong leader.

“It’s my time,” she says. “I’ve sat on so much and done nothing with it, that it’s built up, and I have to let it all go. I have to show my talent. I have to stop hiding my face. I’m looking at 27 thinking I’m about to be 30, and I’m still afraid of leadership roles. It’s always not feeling like you’re good enough, not feeling like you’re capable.”

Getting accepted to nursing school has boosted her confidence and helped her step into her potential. “Since I’ve gotten to the opposite side of it, I’m ready to go in full force. Getting that email that I got in. I’ve got something in me that people need to know. I don’t have to hide it. It’s time to show up.”