Nurse Pursues Switch to Teaching and Finds Love of Writing

Nadien Chavez, who authored the play that won this year's WNMU Creative Writing Contest

© Western New Mexico University

Of the couple dozen submissions to the WNMU Creative Writing Contest, “The Intruder” by Nadien Chavez won first place in the prose/play category.

“I’m working on two degrees at WNMU. My first is in secondary education with a focus in English language arts. The other is a degree in English Literature,” Chavez said.

Clearly, she appreciates the written word.

But Chavez has been a nurse for seven years. “The medical field is not for me,” she said. “I fell into nursing. Honestly, COVID-19 changed my life. I thought about what I was doing with my life, where I was going. I wasn’t fulfilled or happy in nursing, and being a teacher was always in the back of my head. I love working with kids.”

She opted to make a change. “I got an associate degree from Doña Ana Community College in Las Cruces, where I live, but my boyfriend’s family is from Silver City. Some of them graduated from WNMU. I just called up one day, and the staff was really helpful. They made the transfer process feel realistic and easy. I decided to go there, because they’re so supportive and it’s fully online.”

The first in her family to attend college, Chavez began working on her secondary education program requirements but found herself in a literature class with Dr. Deborah Heller. “It opened my eyes to my love and passion for reading, and she recognized my potential,” she said.

Creative writing feels freeing to Chavez. “It’s an escape from the research and academic papers we do in the College of Education.”

Her winning play was informed by her experience babysitting. “I’d never written anything like that, but I really followed the elements of that class and just wrote it,” Chavez said. “These writing classes have really done something for me personally. They’ve opened up a different part of my brain.”

Excerpted from The Intruder by Nadien Chavez, first place in prose/play category:

Side Bedroom:

Sarah laying belly down on the bed, feet crossed and up in the air, talking on the phone. Her laughter fills the house. Lily remains in the living room.

Sarah (excitedly talking on the phone with her friend):

No way! Shut up! Uh- huh….

Yeah. And what did he say?

Are you serious??

(Gasps) O-M-G! I can’t believe you told him that.

Tap, tap, tap on the living room window.

Sarah (stops talking)


Hold on! (Whispers abruptly to her friend on the phone)

(Sarah curiously looking around the room. The phone remains on her ear)

Wait Jen… stop talking.  (Pause)

Yes, I am fine. I thought I heard something.

Sarah (sounding concerned) calls out to Lily:


No response.

Sarah shrugs her shoulders and resumes her call.

Whatever. She must be playing with her little dolls or something.

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