Natalie Westphall – Minnesota Nomination & Photography by Erinn Letts Photos Issue 70 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Natalie Westphall is driven. She puts many hours into her school work in hopes of one day becoming a Registered Nurse. She is currently working to receive her Certified Nursing Assistant licensure so that she can get to know and help people while giving back to her community. Her empathetic and optimistic nature makes her a great candidate for the field. Her grandma, a retired RN, is Natalie’s inspiration. Her grandmother and family have taught her the importance of practicing respect and integrity in her work and studies. These traits along with kindness and compassion make Natalie an inspiring teen.
Photography by Erinn Letts Photos
What lead you to want to become a Registered Nurse? I was looking for a career path that would help people in a direct and meaningful way. After COVID, I found that the ones who had really helped, arguably, the most were healthcare workers. They are a source of inspiration and I want to be just like them.
What does working towards your Certified Nursing Assistant Licensure entail? Working towards my CNA means many months’ worth of anatomy, patient caregiving, and first aid courses. After completing these, future Nursing Assistants will be tested on both the knowledge and skills that they've learned.
What is the most interesting thing you've learned in nursing? I don't know yet, my classes haven't begun, but I'm excited to find out!
What else has your grandmother taught you about nursing? My grandma has taught me the difficulty of the career. She tells stories of the night shift and all the hardships she encountered working in a hospital, all the different people she's met over the years. But she has also told me that it is rewarding and fulfilling.
What is your family like? Where do you fit in and where do you stand out? My family is amazing, and I am so incredibly grateful for them. My parents are very easy to talk to and have made a great life for me. My little brother and I also get along but have very different personalities. Me and my family tend to do our own things on weekdays with work, school, and friends but we usually take time to kayak, watch movies, or talk around the bonfire together on the weekends.
What is a favorite family tradition you hope never ends? Every year, my family plans a week long road trip and camping trip in the summer to a different state. This year, we went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and got to hike around the Great Smoky Mountains! Summer camping trips are a tradition that we've had since I was little and that I'd love to continue with my future family.
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? As a teenager who has a part-time job in addition to taking extra classes outside of high school, I still put my all into everything I do. I still find time for art and I've been making handmade birthday cards for my friends and family since I was in elementary school.
What is your friend group like and what do you like to do together? My friend group is great! We have been hanging out alot this summer and having sleepovers every other week. At these sleepovers, we like to go out and buy snacks and then watch movies and talk together.
What is a memory with your friends you'll never forget? A memory I'll never forget is this year's prom. I went with a group of friends and my boyfriend, and it was a lot of fun! It was my first prom and I loved getting all dressed up and taking pictures with everyone. After the dance itself, we went to Perkins and sat around the table and ordered a bunch of food. We were there for a while just chatting and laughing late at night.
What else would you like to talk about? My 9th grade environmental science teacher, Mr. Jones, really inspired my passion for biology and science. He taught my class during online learning and COVID but still made it engaging and very interesting. It sparked my love of science and now I'm taking a college level biology course that I could not be more excited for!
What do you love learning most about in biology? I love learning about cells. I think it's interesting how they each have a job and that the human brain cannot comprehend just how many cells exist in just the tip of a finger.
How do you think COVID shaped you as a person? I think that COVID and being in lockdown for as long as Minnesota was taught me how to be more independent. Before, I could rely on groupwork during difficult schoolwork. But while in isolation, I learned to use my own knowledge and resources. COVID also made it easier to ask for help because of the private Zoom chatrooms where I could talk to my teachers one-on-one. In a social aspect, COVID taught me resilience because I had to find new ways to talk to my friends and have fun. I found myself doing more artsy stuff things in my free time and using social media to connect with people.
Photography by Natalie
What do you feel passionate about or could talk about forever? I love history and learning about nature! I specifically like to talk about world history and connecting it to current events and the history being made in my lifetime. I also ask my dad a lot of questions about nature when we fish, camp, and hike together. It creates fun conversations about biology and how everything is connected which I find very interesting.
How did you find your photographer, Erinn Letts Photos? What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? I found my photographer, Erinn Letts, through my elementary school, her children attended the same one! She is very involved in the school district and takes a lot of senior photos for my high school. My experience was great!! I loved how positive and bubbly she was, she made me feel more confident in my poses and smile. The pictures turned out so amazing!
If you had nothing to do and all day to do it, where would we find you? You would probably find me either painting or at the thrift store. Painting at home while listening to music is one of my favorite ways to relax and rewind after a busy week. There's a thrift store near my house that I like to go to with friends. Me and my boyfriend are actually going later today as I'm writing this! Thrifting is nice because it takes some effort and time to find good clothing and it helps the environment to shop second hand.
What is up next for you that you are super excited about? The Minnesota State Fair is coming up! I'm going to be visiting and working for it this year and it's always a good time. I'm also excited for fall, it's my favorite season! I love the clothes, the weather, and being able to see friends at school again.
What is the hardest thing you have ever accomplished, and how did you do it? Last May, I took the AP Literature and Composition Test and it was the most difficult exam I've taken so far. I got a 4/5 by studying and refining my writing skills through the school year.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Work hard in school and focus on your interests. Pursue what makes you happy and always keep an optimistic outlook.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans? In five years I'll hopefully be almost finished with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and living the college life. I would live to go to a college out of state and possibly study abroad.
What is your favorite activity or pastime that was not in your nomination? I am a little bit of a music nerd. I listen to everything from heavy metal to bedroom pop and I love learning about my favorite artists and their stories.
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? I can make a trifold with my tongue!
3 Things on your bucket list - Travel outside of the country - Dye my hair dark red - See Phoebe Bridgers in concert
Look for Natalie in issue 70 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!