Leesha Peoples broke her leg at age 17, necessitating a week’s stay in the hospital. She said she admired one of the nurses so much that she decided to consider nursing as a career. “I decided I wanted a career with constant interaction with people where I could make a direct difference in people’s lives without sitting behind a desk,” Peoples said. “There are so many options within the field that I should always be able to find satisfaction. Nursing was a perfect fit for me.”Peoples worked at the Bloomington Mennonite Hospital in the surgical unit after finishing her diploma program, followed by six years in neuro/shock/trauma critical care units at Houston’s Hermann Hospital. While in Houston, she returned to the classroom to earn her bachelor of science degree in nursing.Peoples then chose to explore a nursing specialty that would allow her to take care of one patient at a time in order to “do her best” and found that nurse anesthesia would allow her to devote her full attention to one patient. So Peoples went back to the classroom to get her master’s degree at Bradley University/Decatur Memorial Hospital. She then began her current 15-year career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist at McLean County Anesthesiology.Peoples believes the biggest challenge in nursing is keeping the patient first. “There are many outside pressures on the nurse-patient relationship, namely cost and time constraints, but the reward of the nursing profession is the care you give,” she said. “It cannot be compromised by those constraints.”Peoples said her best nursing memories were many times the most challenging cases, sometimes a patient who she nursed for weeks. “The outcome may have been good or bad, but the reward was working with the patient or family and doing my best,” she said.People’s family consists of husband Brian, an avid golfer who has worked at State Farm for 22 years, daughters Lindsey (14), who has a passion for volleyball and shopping and who is looking forward to starting high school this fall, Erika (11), who shares her sister’s passion for volleyball and also loves swimming and Darci (9), who enjoys softball and, especially, being an artist.Mennonite College of Nursing was a private, small college when Peoples attended. She said she enjoyed the lifelong friendships she made, living at the East Street dorm and clinicals (field experiences) with Louise Bellas, Denise Wilson, Lynn Kennell, Karen Pachis, Kathy Shirk and Charla Renner, “who all made learning fun.” Wilson and Kennell encouraged Peoples at graduation to continue her education, which at the time she felt was “nuts” as she was never going back to school. “Well, only two more times, with no regrets,” she said.Nursing education, according to Peoples, has become more specific, with so much more medical knowledge. “I have always felt well-prepared as a Mennonite graduate,” she said. “I credit this to the large number of hours we spent on clinicals. In today’s society, I think there is more pressure for perfection on students and new nurses, which can lead to nurses leaving the profession early.”To further enhance her profession with new nurses, Peoples has monetarily supported Mennonite for close to 20 years. “I am proud to be a Mennonite graduate, and I want the tradition to continue,” she said. “I know what I am investing in there, and I know the money will be used well to educate people who have goals like I had as a student and new nursing professional.”