Social Inclusion starts off “Women of Action” web series

Alex Hopper, Staff Writer

The Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion, Women’s Center, and Community Service and Outreach have co-sponsored “Women of Action.”

“Women of Action” is a web series that they say seeks to highlight the achievements of women in the Shoals Community in the areas of civic engagement, education, business, and leadership.

From Sept. to Nov., “Women of Action” will hold free zoom classes featuring guest speakers who have made an impact in their community.

The September class featured University of North Alabama’s own Rachel Winston.

Winston is from Tuskegee Alabama and graduated from UNA with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After working as a staff and charge nurse, she went on to earn her Master’s degree in Nursing Education and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from The University of South Alabama.

Winston is currently an Associate Professor in the UNA Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. She also acts as the director for the UNA Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students.

Andrea Hunt, the director of the Mitchell West Center for Social Inclusion, explains that the co-sponsors chose Winston because of her work ethic and impact she has had on the campus community.

“If you know Rachel, you know Rachel,” said Hunt. “If you’ve been in her presence, you know, she is just about that work of pouring into campus and pouring into our students lives.”

Winston’s class focused on achieving career goals and navigating the setbacks and changes that may incur while on the journey to success.

Winston spoke about her personal experience in becoming a nurse and then later transitioning into nursing education.

“Me becoming a nurse was really based on my desire to serve people at their worst,” said Winston. “Nursing became a profession that I could use to be my best self.”

She explained that though nursing was her passion, getting through nursing school wasn’t always easy for her. 

“I am not the student who can just listen in class, and make straight A’s like that, that gift is not mine,” said Winston. “I am a student who has to grind.”

Winston stressed the importance of understanding personal needs as a student throughout her class. She explained that for her, understanding her own educational needs led to her success.

Another key point of Winston’s class was perseverance through setbacks.

“I would be lying to you if I said that I passed every nursing class I ever took,” said Winston. “But because I had decided that this was my calling, a setback was not going to stop me.”

Winston explained that knowing that a delay does not define the end of something, but is simply part of the process is an integral lesson she believes is important for success in any field. 

Prioritization is another important aspect of success Winston explained.

“We all have to figure out what is important in this season,” said Winston. “And each season is a little different.”

She then spoke about navigating changes in her career path.

“The first thing that you want to do is look at what your favorite parts of your career are,” said Winston. “And then ask yourself, when you go to the next level, would you be able to do more?”

Winston identified that her favorite part of nursing was educating patients on home care after hospitalization. This aspect of nursing instilled her with purpose and encouraged her to pursue higher education.

“I felt like in that situation, my job was to be a cup that was full of water,” said Winston. “And my task was to pour all that water into someone else. But what’s so cool about nursing is as I was pouring out, I was literally being filled back up in the process.”

Dr. Winston then spoke about her newest transition to the Florence City Schools Board of Education. She ran twice for this position and got elected for the first time this term.

“I was really, really disappointed after the last time I ran,” said Winston. “I felt like I did everything that I was supposed to do.”

After feeling discouraged, her mom pushed her to run again and fulfill her passion. Having to do things twice was another key point in Winston’s class.

“We often have to do things twice,” said Winston. “But if we can push through the second goal, we will get it.”

Winston said her passion for the Board of Education stems from her children and her desire to represent kids like hers that she feels can be underserved. 

“Some kids can be on the fringes when it comes to decisions,” said Winston. “Somebody has to be present, that does not have those kids at the back of their brain.”

Winston lastly explained that her only goal at any given time is to be the best she can be in her present endeavors.

“My goal is to be fantastic at what I’m doing right now,” said Winston. “And I feel like if I can do that, every door that is supposed to open, will.”

Winston’s class highlighted her achievements in education and her career. She used her personal experience as a guideline for tips for success in any field.

The following two classes are scheduled for Oct. 21 and Nov. 18. They are free to sign up for at