Sometimes the perfect opportunity comes along at the perfect time for the perfect individual. In the case of Arielle Bivas, MS ’14, School of Nursing, that opportunity was the Betty Gabriel Chancellor’s Endowed Scholarship in 2012.
Arielle Bivas already had two art degrees and 10 years of experience as an educator in art, drama, and sexual health when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. When Arielle became her primary caregiver, a career in health suddenly took on new meaning.
“Going into health care had always been somewhere in the back of my mind,” Arielle says. “Then when my mom got sick, all my artwork started becoming about the body and illness and wellness.”
The experience with her mother’s illness gave Arielle an appreciation for how nursing is a multidisciplinary profession. She began to see a career path for herself, one that combined creativity, compassion, and advocacy to improve care for the underserved and elderly and their increasing burden of chronic illness.
“Nursing is very satisfying, and it feels very creative,” Arielle says. “You’re always solving problems, so it fulfills that creative need in me.” Arielle applied and was accepted to the UCSF School of Nursing. But it would be the Betty H. Gabriel Chancellor’s Endowed Scholarship that would provide Arielle with the much-needed resources to make her dream of a health care career a reality.
After my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I started to think that maybe I would be more fulfilled and more useful if I did something in the health field rather than just making art about it.
The late Herb Gabriel, DDS, created the scholarship in 2012 in memory of his beloved wife, Betty, a School of Nursing student whom he met while both were attending UCSF in 1940. The scholarship came at the perfect time for Arielle – she would be the inaugural recipient, and it would kick-start her new career as a registered nurse practitioner, public health nurse, and specialist in geriatrics as well as adult and pediatric diabetes.
“Diabetes is a long-term condition that requires people to make a lot of lifestyle changes,” says Arielle, who would go on to receive the scholarship again in 2013-2014. “It’s the highlight of my day when I see patients who have made improvements and are learning to manage their lives as best they can.”
After graduating in 2014, Arielle became a nurse practitioner at the Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center in Los Gatos. Now she applies the leadership and collaborative skills she learned at UCSF on high-touch, multidisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses, therapists, counselors, and acupuncturists to care for individuals with chronic pain. It’s truly a perfect fit for her passion to explore the “whole person” and promote solutions that enhance traditional treatments for chronic diseases and conditions.
“I am honored to have been the recipient of the Betty H. Gabriel Chancellor’s Endowed Scholarship,” she says. “It came at the perfect time and changed my life.”