Sarah Sokol

It’s what I wanted to do

After an accident changed her and her husband’s life, Sarah knew that nursing was where she was meant to be.

portrait of Sarah Sokol, nurse at UC Davis Health


So I never really knew what I wanted to do when I was little and that continued on until my late 20s. Never really knew what I wanted to do. I got my real estate license and then the market crashed, but something significant happened in my life. On October 18th of 2008, my husband was in an accident. He broke his back and he became a paraplegic. And it was a week before my 20th birthday, and I just didn't really have any direction. He was my boyfriend at the time. We were together for three years and then this event happened and it just shook me to my core and helped me learn what I wanted to do.

And I was just like, "I'm going to do it. I'm going to be a nurse. This is what I want to do." And it taught me a lot about grief and a lot about loss, and how those don't always have to be about death, but a loss of function, a loss of normalcy. So I went back to school and I started to get straight A's and I got some F's expelled from my record from when I was a younger person. And I got accepted into the nursing program at Sacramento State. And I graduated with honors and my husband and I got married between my third and fourth semester of school. And with full leg braces, he was able to walk me down the aisle, which was really special.

He doesn't usually put his braces on because it's a lot of work. Most of the time he's in his chair, but that's what really made me want to be a nurse. I never thought I was smart enough. My mom was a nurse growing up and I struggled with dyslexia and was held back from school. So I never thought I was smart enough to do something like this, but I just didn't apply myself.

Seeing his whole process from beginning to end, from being admitted emergently, to staying in the ICU, to going through multiple surgeries, to then being medivaced because it had happened in Utah. Being medivaced back to California, going into inpatient and having med-surge and then eventually into inpatient rehabilitation in Kaiser, in Vallejo. So we went through the whole gamut of nursing and it just really made me see how broad nursing is and how special it can be. And just the different types of nurses there are out there and how they all differ and how you can do better or worse.