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Kadori Ngirabakunzi
Kadori Ngirabakunzi's career, helping others, is more than just a job.

While the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the world continues to turn. Health care workers are more vital than ever, but mental health is just as important. Northern Kentucky University alumna Kadori Ngirabakunzi, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at leading mental health provider Harbor, is well aware of the impact mental health has on a person’s life.

Adding a pandemic and the stressors that come with it on top of the effect everyday life can have on minds can be a heavy burden, but people like Ngirabakunzi do what they do to lighten that load for their clients.

“I had some pretty rough life experiences growing up, and that caused some trauma,” Ngirabakunzi reveals. “I always wanted to help others who might have gone through something similar, to let them know those experiences don’t define them.”

Ngirabakunzi was previously a nurse for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, working on an as-needed basis before becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Harbor and working strictly on telehealth.

"I’ve always had the spirit of taking care of people. I was never meant to be a pharmacist. I was born to do what I do.”

While this has allowed her to keep herself from being exposed during the pandemic, the emotional toll she and her clients have experienced cannot be overlooked.

“It can be taxing. Psych is pretty heavy,” Ngirabakunzi says. “The pandemic has made so many people feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. It can be emotionally draining, but helping people is what I was made to do.”

While Ngirabakunzi had initially thought about going to school to become a pharmacist, she notes how grateful she is to have realized she wanted to pursue nursing instead. After deciding on a nursing career, Ngirabakunzi researched countless schools before determining NKU would be the best fit for her, and she has immensely enjoyed her time as a Norse since.

“You’ve got to love it,” Ngirabakunziexplains, about working in health care. “It’s not easy, and you can burn out quickly. You have to get up and go to work despite what’s going on in your life. I’ve always had the spirit of taking care of people. I was never meant to be a pharmacist. I was born to do what I do.”

Ngirabakunzi notes the positive experience she had in the College of Health Professions (now known as the College of Health and Human Services) when she decided to first pursue her nursing career as a 2016 BSN graduate and again as a 2020 MSN graduate.

“The staff at the College of Health Professions were awesome to me,” Ngirabakunzi says. “I had some rough stuff happen during that time, and the staff was so supportive, always cheering me on. It was the best college experience that I’ve had.”

No matter what is going on in life, the one thing Ngirabakunzi wants anyone to take away is that there is always a light at the end of every tunnel.

“It’s OK to not be OK, and we struggle so much in day-to-day life because we think we should be. Utilize your support system, whether that’s your friends, families, professors, whoever you trust tolisten and understand.” Ngirabakunzi says. “Stay focused, stay determined. You are not alone.”

About This Article

Kelsey Bungenstock ('16)
Contributor, NKU Magazine
Published April 2022
Photography by Scott Beseler

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