Meet Kali.

Kali Fischer
Kali Fischer
Bachelor of Science Program, Morgantown Campus

Making Positive Changes

During her time at the West Virginia University School of Nursing, Kali Fischer has been a leader for positive change.

She’s a student member of the School of Nursing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, as well as the first-ever DEI representative for the Student Nurses Association.

In March 2022, Fischer organized a Trans Safe Zone Training, inviting members of the School of Nursing and beyond to learn how to be more affirming and supportive of the transgender population, especially as healthcare providers. She has also led an effort to allow nursing students to use a name other than their legal name on their identification badges.

“In my freshman year, I began signing my name as Kali. When I got my name badge, I was told unless that was the legal spelling, it couldn’t be anything different,” she shared. “I legally changed my name from the old spelling to the current spelling, but I realized if someone was trans and didn’t have the finances to legally change their name or the support to do it, that would be another way they would get knocked down, intentional or not.”

She approached leadership at the School of Nursing about making a policy change and her efforts were successful.

“I want to help with the LGBTQ+ community and have those conversations. I never thought anyone was malicious or mal intended, but it’s not something people think about unless they know someone who is trans or have been through similar experiences.”

Her first partner was trans, and she said she learned a lot as she helped him navigate his transition process. Also, as someone who identifies as bisexual and as a trans ally, Fischer said supporting the LGBTQ+ community is especially important to her.

“There’s not a lot of education in textbooks yet about those conversations, about how to make a safe environment,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to host a Trans Safe Zone Training, to be able to broach those conversations about how to be respectful, to understand what questions are and aren’t medically necessary.”

Both hosting the Trans Safe Zone Training and helping change the name badge policy has been an incredibly rewarding experience for Fischer.

“It made me feel empowered as a student. Being able to make a positive change and help bring this to students and faculty, it just makes me very happy. It makes me feel like I can make a difference and that I’m helping these issues be seen."

When Fischer was younger, she remembers her older cousin telling her stories about working as a nurse in the ICU.

“My brother and mom are squeamish. They would cover their ears, but I remember being so fascinated. I would say, ‘Please tell me more. I need to know.’ That’s what sparked my interest in nursing,” Fischer shared.

As she was choosing a career path in high school, she initially considered counseling or teaching, but she soon realized nursing incorporates those elements and more.

“I knew I would get to teach people, to put it in a language they understand, to see that lightbulb go off. I would also get to be there for people during some of the worse times in their life.”

Once she landed on nursing, she toured 13 different schools looking for the best fit. After exploring the options, she applied to six schools and was accepted at all of them.

“WVU School of Nursing was my first choice,” Fischer said. “Part of my decision was the fact that I could walk around the WVU campus and see different types of people everywhere. That made me very happy. Also, the mountains and topography here are wonderful.”

Another deciding factor for Fischer was the WV STEPS Center, a state-of-the-art center for experiential learning with simulation. Other schools touted their realistic simulations, Fischer said, but nothing compared to the WV STEPS Center: “We get to practice IVs and run simulations on manikins in a way that I hadn’t seen at any of the other schools.”

Fischer also noted that at WVU, students receive three years of clinical experience, rather than only two at other schools.

“I knew at WVU School of Nursing I would get the most experience, the most patient interaction and the most opportunity for student experiences than any of the other schools where I applied.”

As she’s progressed through the program, her decision to become a nurse has continued to be solidified.

“I love being able to explain the intricate ways the human body works, and the fact that when there’s a crisis moment, each time I’ve snapped into task mode. All the clinical days, even the hard ones, I walk away knowing this is what I’m meant to do.”

She’s unsure of the specialty she’ll pursue, but she said she’s leaning toward psych. After graduation, she would like to join her cousin in Colorado.

“I am looking forward to being able to work, to go home and be home, to not have to worry about homework,” she said with a laugh. “I am so excited for getting to make those little differences in people’s lives every day.”