After Hardeep Aulakh earned her bachelor's degree in classics from UC Berkeley, she worked for a brief time in the banking profession but did not feel at home in that milieu.
She kept coming back to what her mother, also a nurse, called her "nurse-like tendencies," which had surfaced early in her childhood and were reflected in so many of her chosen activities. Aulakh had always enjoyed taking care of loved ones, volunteering at her local Sikh temple, and serving as a counselor in a camp infirmary. Such services felt natural, like a labor of love, so she decided to follow her heart and change careers.
"I was already doing many of the things nurses do," she says. "I finally found my home."
"Nursing is a profession that requires lifelong practice. UCSF and the SFVA have given me the tools to be the best nurse practitioner I can be."
— Hardeep Aulakh, MS '16
Among the Best
Aulakh pursued training and worked as a certified nurse assistant and licensed vocational nurse, then earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing, with honors, from New York University.
Advancing her education at UCSF seemed like a natural next step, the wisdom of which was confirmed by her first visit.
"There was a strong energy to the campus," she says. "Everyone wanted to make the best of themselves and provide the best care for others. I knew I belonged there." She is full of praise for her many dedicated instructors, especially clinical professor JoAnne Saxe, MS '82, for making a genuine investment in her students' learning and careers.
Aulakh earned her master's degree in nursing with a special focus in diabetes, plus certification as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. Now she's halfway through a year-long residency at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Fort Mikey, where she works on multidisciplinary teams delivering hands-on patient care, mentoring nursing students, and striving every day to refine her nursing and caregiving skills.
"Nursing is a profession that requires lifelong practice," Aulakh says. "UCSF and SFVA have given me the tools to be the best nurse practitioner I can be." Her residency has been so inspiring that she hopes to continue working at the the VA long after she completes her residency program.
"It is an honor to care for veterans," she says. "I love listening to their stories, their experiences. It's humbling to know that I'm making a positive difference in their daily lives."
This story first published on the UCSF Alumni website.