DUSON Student Pursuing Specialty in Refugee, HIV Health

DUSON Student Pursuing Specialty in Refugee, HIV Health

Emily Laker is studying to earn her BSN-DNP and hopes to focus on refugee and HIV health in her career.


Emily Laker knew she wanted a career that would allow her to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. Then she remembered her grandfather’s hospice nurse and decided to follow the nursing path so she could help other families.  

“I was excited to become a nurse because I knew that there were many options in the career and I could use it to help in a variety of settings, even overseas,” she said. “Nursing allows one to enter the most intimate times of people’s lives and support them there.” 

Laker, of Cary, is studying to earn her BSN-DNP (Bachelor of Science in Nursing-Doctor of Nursing Practice) at Duke University School of Nursing. When she was considering going back to school for her master's and doctorate, she knew she wanted to pursue a specialty in HIV. DUSON was the only school at the time offering it.  

“Duke’s great reputation and the option to take courses online made it a great fit for me,” she said. “I was excited about the alumni across the nation that uphold the reputation and the chance to be matched with them for my clinicals. Staying with Duke after my master’s for my doctorate was a great opportunity as I had come to appreciate several faculty members and felt supported in my DNP project.” 

So far, Laker says, she has had “a wild Duke ride.” She started her Master of Science in Nursing during Spring 2020 and was one of four students in her class to go straight through from the Family Nurse Practitioner program to the Doctor of Nursing Practice. In September 2022, she graduated with her MSN and in September 2023 traveled to the Philippines with her partner for their DNP project.  

“I’ve had wonderful faculty teaching my courses, ones that have cared about not just the work we’re doing and material we’re learning, but about life outside of the classroom as well,” Laker said. “I’ve been glad to have faculty that are known for their work and are leaders in our field.” 

After graduation, she hopes to work with an underserved population, continue promoting prevention for wellness and to take on teaching roles with nursing students.  

“I’ve been grateful for past work in refugee and HIV health and will keep looking for opportunities like those,” Laker said.  

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