From caregiver to pediatric ICU nurse: UAB student honors sister’s legacy

Jada King spent her childhood caring for her sister. Four years after her sister’s passing, King will graduate from the UAB School of Nursing and work with patients like her sister as a pediatric intensive care nurse.
Written by: Pareasa Rahimi and Hannah Echols
Media contact: Hannah Echols

1205241486776953.ohFBTLDyP9GTdwByvDRr height640Jada King and her sister Dejá
Photograph courtesy of Jada King
Four years after her sister’s passing, Jada King, a first-generation college student, will graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing.

“Compared to most people my age, I had to grow up a little earlier as far as having to take care of my sister, and it was a different level of responsibility; but she also helped me,” King said. “I felt that, if I could care for patients like I took care of my sister, I could do that for the rest of my life.”

While King’s high school peers were worried about after-school activities, King was focused on getting home to help her mother care for Dejá. She taught her how to walk and how to feed herself and even administered seizure medications, sometimes in the middle of the night.

Her interest in the nursing profession peaked when she joined the Health Science Academy at Spain Park High School. Through the academy, she saw how she could help others like her sister and developed a goal of becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist. 

Inside Jada King Summer 2023 BSN Graduate03Jada King will graduate from the UAB School of Nursing on Aug. 11, 2023. Photography: Frank CouchKing attended the University of Alabama before transferring to UAB for nursing school. She participated in the Student Nurse Internship Program, a partnership between the UAB School of Nursing and Children’s of Alabama, where her personal experience as a caregiver collided with her training.

“It was hard in the beginning, but I wanted to take care of others like Dejá,” King said. “With each patient, I felt like I got pieces of my sister back.”

Following graduation, King will begin her career at Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the same unit where her sister spent time after her diagnosis.  

“It’s a full-circle moment,” King said. “Sometimes we’re placed in a position and don’t understand why. It wasn’t until four years later that I fully understood. This profession requires patience, passion and compassion, and I thank my sister for preparing me.”

King hopes to return to school to become a CRNA and continue to work with children with disabilities. Besides fulfilling her dream, King says she is fulfilling one for both her mom and sister.

“My mom had my sister at a young age and did not have the opportunity to attend college; neither did my sister,” King said. “Being able to graduate from one of the top nursing programs is a dream and a way I can honor them both.”