Monique grew up in West Philly with a very close knit family. With a reminiscent smile she said, “We all lived within a five block radius of each other, so that was a lot of fun! I’m very close with my Dad, I’m a daddy’s girl, for sure.” Monique’s father is a chemist which explains her passion for chemistry and science. “He taught me about glucose and nerdy things like that when I was a kid,” she told me. Certainly growing up in Philadelphia was rough at times for a young woman, but with an understanding of science Monique’s hypothesis was, “everything I’ve been through makes me everything I am today.”

I  sat down with Monique on a West Hollywood patio a couple block away from LA’s Runyon Canyon. The sun was beaming and it was a beautiful day to be outdoors. Monique is a graduate of Hampton University’s renowned school of nursing. She recently surpassed the one year milestone as a travel nurse and moved to Los Angeles in March to work for UCLA Medical, which is regarded by many as the #1 hospital in America. Monique is registered in six states and is also the founder of her nursing brand Resilient Scrubs LLC, The site tackles inspiration, clinical advice, and style for nurses worldwide. Monique confided with me that Cali was always the mission, “I wanted to come to LA and I wanted to live and work here as a nurse. Challenges got in the way of that for a long time, but it’s great to finally be where I want to be.” Monique certainly has a powerful story to tell. I present a talented care giver with the intangibles to impact the world in a major way in this week’s #ShineHard Conversation..

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Who did you look up to as a kid?

Mo: Number one my Dad. Dad is so cool! He’s that nerdy guy that has swagger and that’s basically me haha! I think we’re the same person and that’s probably why I look up to him so much. I just admire how brilliant he is, the support, and the unconditional love. Then I would have to say my cousin Shelly because she’s FLY! And she’s cool too, we get along really well. Our mothers were really close so we were just around each other all the time. She gave me the best hand-me-downs ever! She has amazing style and always gives the best fashion advice. The last person I would say is my grandmother. She’s from Philly and she’s such a strong woman.

Tell me about UCLA Medical and your journey as a nurse

Mo: So right now I am working at UCLA in their Liver Transplant ICU. I’m a travel nurse, so I’m expected to come in within two days of training and pretty much know completely what’s going on in the hospital. So right now I’m in Liver Transplant ICU which I was very prepared to be here and it’s such an amazing honor. You know people wait for years and are listed all over the country for a transplant. I prepare the patient before they get their transplant and I see the patient after they’ve had their transplant to make sure there’s no rejection. I’ve always worked in critical care so that kind of gave me a precursor for this, but it is a very very tight specialty. You have to be very knowledgeable, alert, and careful. It’s a lot of pressure but I love it!

From West Philly to West Hollywood, what’s it like going from the east coast to the west coast?

Mo: I went from the east coast to the south, Hampton University, then I moved to Atlanta. That was completely different. People were nicer there and more friendly. It increased my ease of living. Coming from the east where there’s so much hustle and people are moving fast, it was nice to go where people were relaxed. It’s a big difference in the culture. It’s also a big difference in being a nurse here. Practicing nursing on the west coast is much different. They have a lot of laws that protect nurses and a lot of unions and things to make sure nurses are getting their breaks and proper benefits. It’s a lot better being a nurse here! It was a lot harder to be a nurse on the east coast.

What would you say is the key to surviving in Los Angeles?

Mo: Not just LA, but anywhere, it’s realizing that you don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. You don’t have wear the clothes that everyone else is wearing, you don’t have to go to the events that everyone else is going to. It’s just recognizing the point that you are in your life. Like right now it’s grind time for me. I have some things I have to pay for. I’m gonna have a little fun but I’m not going to be out shopping and partying like I would love to be. Sometimes you just have to buckle down, humble yourself, and work to where you wanna get to.

What are your passions and when did you know?

Mo: I love taking care of other people. I really enjoy it. I love watching them get better and I love being there through that process. I didn’t really know until… You know I went to school to be a nurse and I did all the clinicals. I worked even a year and I was going through the motions. I thought, “OK I like this, I enjoy it, and I do it.” But it just didn’t click for me.

I remember having a girl with me who had a very bad trauma. She had an open wound and she was just so dismantled at that point. I remember just doing things to make her feel better. Giving the TLC and that’s the extra part of my job. That made me realize that I love what I do and I don’t want to do anything else. The other passions I have is science, chemistry, and fashion!

What inspires you to succeed?

Mo: Life! There’s just so much life to live and why not be successful? For me, the definition of success is just being as happy as you can be. You can chase a whole bunch of financial things or perks, but it’s all about being happy.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you in your nursing career?

Mo: Would have to be being a travel nurse because I have to deal with different personalities all the time. I’ve gone into different hospitals six to eight times this year for travel assignments and you know I have to be able to adapt. I’m coming into a group, a family, and they don’t know me and they don’t know if they want to help me. It’s a field that can be dominated by women and it can be difficult to work with that many different personalities. I do my best to put out positive energy and regardless of the culture, I do my business to work as a team. If you need help, I’m going to help you.

What would you say is the #1 factor to your success?

Mo: Prayer. Faith! I have a lot faith in myself. I think I can do anything I wanna do if I really wanna do it. At this point, I’m careful about what I say I want because I know it’s going to happen. I really really believe in myself because I know God’s got me! Period. My faith in God is tremendous. I feel like I can move half way around the world with not a whole bunch of money or not really knowing the hospital. This is what I need to do to take my career to the next level? Let’s do it.

What frustrates you the most about today’s culture?

Mo: I think it’s becoming cool to degrade yourself and I don’t really appreciate that. I think it’s becoming cool to not have a purpose and not really know what you’re out here for but if you look good than everything’s fine. I think it’s a very superficial world. There’s a lot of talent that’s being dismissed. I wish more people believed that you could go after your own goals and your own dreams and still live a very cool life.

What advice do you have for aspiring and current nurses?

Mo: Becoming a nurse, wanting to start a blog, or wanting to do anything, period… Believe in yourself, always! If you don’t believe in yourself why should other people?  You might have that one person who pushes you and tells you how great you are, if they’re telling you that, believe them. They see something in you that is definitely there. As far as being a nurse, I would say study, study, and study again! If it gets to a point where you don’t like doing it, do something else. There’s opportunities on the administrative side, working a crisis line, or in a laboratory. If you don’t love what you’re doing, don’t make other people suffer because of a bad attitude. Just do something else!

Johnny: That’s real talk. When you love what you do, it shows! I’m 100% with you when you say “Do What You Love!” Mo, proud to have you as a member of the @ShineHardFamily!

Interested in learning more or connecting with Monique?

Twitter/Instagram: @IamNurseMo