Graylen attends Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine. She is employed by the Pepperdine University Student Health Center and enjoys hiking, hunting, and exploring the beautiful Colorado outdoors. The first time Graylen interacted with Norma as her caregiver, Norma’s beautiful, blue eyes and her heartwarming smile were the first things she noticed. Each day she spent with Norma after that brought indescribable joy and a sense of purpose to Graylen’s life. Graylen was fortunate enough to act as Norma’s caregiver, but most importantly as her friend. Through the generosity of Norma Smiles, Graylen was able to complete her Personal Care Worker training. Graylen’s goal is to attend a Masters Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) after graduating from Pepperdine and help other individuals, just like Norma, through a career in nursing.
Commendation and Recognition of Graylen as a Caregiver Champion
I personally hired Graylen as a Caregiver for my Mom in the summer of 2017 while she was home from college. Upon talking to her about the mission of Norma Smiles, Graylen offered to be a volunteer and give our Called to Caregive curriculum a try. On her own time, she took all 20 credit hours of training. When she showed up for her shift with my Mom, you could just see her confidence in her ability to perform care tasks grow each day having studied the skills videos thru Norma Smiles Academy at home.
Aside from being a total sweetheart, Graylen has an amazing gift for caring for others. My Mom adored her right from the start. Being bedridden with advanced dementia and physical damage from a lower cortex stroke, there are some pretty difficult parts to the job. I remember asking my friend Tracy (Graylen’s Aunt), if she thought Graylen would be ok with some of the not-so-pretty tasks associated with the job and Tracy said “Graylen has gutted an Elk”. LOL. Going forward I will ask as an interview question of every caregiver, “Have you ever gutted an Elk”? in hopes that I find someone like Graylen.
Seriously, Graylen has the perfect blend of tenderness and toughness. She leads from her heart but totally uses her head. I am not exaggerating when I say that she was one of the BEST caregivers that ever entered my home. She will be an incredible asset to the medical field in whatever capacity she chooses. Words will never adequately convey the powerful impact Graylen had on our lives this summer. She was the absolute bright spot in an heartbreaking and arduous journey.