In our Always a Redhawk series, we highlight some of our most recent graduates and the jobs they landed.


Family drove Alyssa Heller toward a degree in nursing, but her experience at Southeast Missouri State University helped her choose her specialty and land her first job.

Heller remembers her grandfather’s cancer diagnosis and her brother’s Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, both of which she witnessed in her childhood. Both situations introduced her to the medical world and made her realize the role that nurses played in families’ lives.

“It made me want to be that person for someone else someday,” Heller said. 

Now, she has officially walked the stage and graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with her nursing degree. Heller, originally from Red Bud, Illinois, had the opportunity to do practicum clinical and externships during her time at Southeast. It was her practicum clinical in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that drove her toward the big decision to choose neonatal nursing.

“Being there helped me realize how much I love to take care of the babies,” Heller said. “Getting to send the babies home is such a huge accomplishment for both the family and the health care team.”

Her career will begin at the Children’s Hospital in Saint Louis, which is a level IV NICU offering the highest level of medical care for newborns and premature infants available.  


Learn More About Alyssa's Majors

Always a Redhawk

Alyssa was a 2023 graduate who finished the nursing program at Southeast. Learn more about the nursing program and facilities.

Heller was able to do an externship in St. Louis as well, focusing more on adult health before she got licensed. Even these skills are skills she’s taking into her next step.

In fact, many skills she learned at Southeast in the nursing program will be skills she leans on as she steps into the world as a professional. In a career as intense as neonatal intensive care, she knows the skills will be needed. 

“Overall, you learn multiple skills in nursing school that can help you on multiple different levels,” Heller said. “I personally think that learning the skills of therapeutic communication is the biggest one that I have taken with me. Talking to these babies’ parents is already hard because they don’t want to see their baby in the NICU but having that communication skillset is what helps them and the team stay calm.”

Graduates from the Southeast Department of Nursing have a 93% pass rate when taking the NCLEX for the first time, and a 97% job placement rate for those graduating with a BSN. 

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2023 Commencement

With this spring’s 1,414 graduates, Southeast Missouri State University is preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, healthcare professionals and leaders that our communities need. See our news site for more on our grads, including the 2023 President's List and Dean's List.