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One on one: Mancus follows indirect path to nursing
Sarah Mulder
Antelope Staff
Photo by Sarah Mulder
“I really wish I was graduated at this point so I could go help in Haiti,” Mancus said.

Gibran Mancus, a senior level nursing student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, said his life has been a path of learning about healing.

At 34 years old, the once theater major, turned massage therapist, turned plumber’s apprentice, turned cook, spent the majority of his childhood moving around the country – plus about 10 years hitchhiking across the country right after high school. Mancus is now turning toward a career in public health, but is not making any concrete plans for the future.

“My life has never really done well with me making plans,” he said one afternoon, sipping a cup of leaf tea in a downtown Kearney, coffee shop. “The less planning I do, the more interesting and fulfilling my life has been. Just time and time again, things just don’t go the way I planned it, and it turned out pretty good. Actually, better than what I visualized it.”

Q: What led you to the nursing profession?

A: I didn’t come at it directly. I had my certificate in massage therapy, but that wasn’t consistent money. While I was in massage school I thought about going into school as continuing education, but the high motivation for me to get back into school was knowing that I need something I would always have a job in. What I really enjoy, public health, there’s more (job) opportunities opening up. What we’ve realized as a country, is to prevent people from getting sick is much more cost effective. It’s a lot cheaper to get someone to exercise than it is to give someone a coronary artery bypass.

Q: What gave you the final push to enroll in nursing school?
A: I really wish I was graduated at this point so I could go help in Haiti. At the time of the tsunami (tsunami of 2004 in Thailand and Sri Lanka that killed more than 200,000 people), my sister and my mother and my father were in Vietnam, but I didn’t know exactly where they were. They had gone to some island without telephones. I’m sittin’ there watching all the footage of the tsunami, and I’m just cryin’ and cryin’ and wishin’ I could go help and wondering where my parents were and my sister was. That kind of solidified why I wanted to go into nursing. I wanted a job where I could help people.

Q: What area of nursing interests you the most and why?
A: As health providers, we can’t make people healthy, but we can give them tools to optimize their health. I joined the American Holistic Nurses Association, an organization that advocates for looking at the more traditional parts of nursing – massage. It was an elemental part of nursing at one point and we have become so technical that unless we stay conscious of that, it’s easily forgotten about. Like a hug, a handshake – those are powerful things. When you put your hands on somebody and let them know, ‘I’m here for you when you’re sick,’ it’s a powerful experience that’s shared.

Q: What jobs have you had in the past?
A: I’ve bartended, I’ve waited tables, I’ve been a plumber’s apprentice, I’ve gone house to house asking people if they wanted their gutters cleaned, I was a river rafting guide, I baked bread at an artisan bakery. I liked helping people.

Q: How do you think your experiences will help you in the nursing profession?
A: Nursing is plumbing. Nursing is touch. Nursing is nutrition. ‘We give our life away’ is the saying in nursing.

Q: What is the most valuable thing you have learned about yourself while going through UNMC?

A: It’s all do-able. It seems like you can never learn enough. You can always do more. Then you have to find a balance of giving it the best you can and taking care of your body. Learning as much as you can and knowing that you can’t learn it all.

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