Gatewood, of Bowling Green, Ky., the outstanding student at the School of Nursing, will be the student speaker Thursday’s commencement ceremony at Freedom Hall.

A Woodford R. Porter Scholar, Gatewood received a 2011 KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville, Ky. Scholarship. She has been invited to join Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor’s Society and the Golden Key National Honor’s Society.

Through her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Gatewood helped work with children at a local YMCA, assisted with the Harriet B. Porter Breast Cancer celebration and mentored eighth- and ninth-grade young women.

UofL Today caught up with Gatewood recently to talk about her UofL experience.

What made you decide to attend UofL?
It was the communication program at first. I liked the atmosphere when I first visited with my friends. I liked the opportunity for campus involvement. It was really the overall feeling I got when I came on campus.

What made you change your major to nursing?
My father actually got sick with colon cancer. I saw the way that our family interacted with his nurses, and I thought “This is what I have to do.” It really made me change my mind.

How is your father now?
He is doing well. He’ll be here for commencement.

You’ve been actively involved in a number of activities as a student. What made you want to be involved?

I definitely knew I wanted to get involved in sorority life because it was a chance to get involved in community service. I knew if I was involved, I would have to keep my grades up and I would meet new people, and I would be able to serve my community. The mentoring program I’m in, I’m absolutely in love with kids. Any chance I get to talk to kids — give them inspiration, helping them get on the right path — I love to do that.

What have been some of your best experiences as a student?
Definitely my experience with my sorority sisters at Alpha Kappa Alpha. They made me a better woman. They taught me how to focus, how to get along with other people. And then there was the day I got my letter saying I got into nursing upper division. That was probably my best day of college.

What’s next for you?
I plan to go back to Bowling Green, Ky., hopefully as a cardiac nurse, working in open heart recovery. I really want to pursue my graduate degree and eventually do AIDS research.

What will you tell your peers in your commencement speech?
My main idea for the whole speech is living life through power, purpose and passion. Basically, we’ve been blessed with education, we’ve been blessed to get to know so many wonderful people, it’s now our turn to go into the community and give back.