As an 8-year-old girl, Nat’e Guyton went to live with her grandmother in inner city Philadelphia. “My parents were teenagers when they had me. They were young and uneducated and they went off to live their tumultuous lives,” she says.
Instead of dwelling on her situation, Guyton says it gave her more resolve and determination to seek a better life.
“It caused me to be laser focused on what I needed to do for myself and my family, my career and my community. Nobody in my community had education and many people were laid off and on welfare.”
Despite a lack of money and scarcity of educational role models, Guyton found the inner strength to transcend the obstacles. “I say it was God’s will. I didn’t have a road map, but I had a vision in my head early on,” she says.
Before earning her doctoral degree, Guyton obtained a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing education from Widener University, got married and raised two boys, now 7 and 14.
Guyton credits her husband, Sean, whom she met at 15, with helping her succeed. While Guyton attended school, he took care of the children and helped maintain their home. He shuttled them to sports practices, went grocery shopping and made dinner when Guyton was at school, studying or working late. He continues to do the same today while working a full time job.
“My husband is awesome. … He’s also been a constant in my life outside of my grandmother. He’s seen the struggle and he has always been a part of helping me get where I needed to go.”
Earning the advanced degree was a tremendous personal accomplishment for Guyton, and she’s provided a strong role model for her children. “It was a blessing to go through the program and allow them to see the process and work ethic needed to succeed,” she says. “My oldest son said, ‘Mom, you set the bar high for us.’” Both boys are talking about becoming physicians.
Guyton developed her strong work ethic from watching her grandmother work the 3-11 p.m. shift as a hospital unit clerk. Every day after school, Guyton went to the hospital and did her homework there because she wasn’t allowed to be home alone. She remembers spending Christmas with the hospital Santa. “I grew up in the hospital. It was all I really knew.”
That early exposure sparked Guyton’s interest in a health-care career. While in high school, she took advanced science and math classes and decided on nursing. After graduating at 17, she enrolled at Widener University while working as a file clerk in a law firm and as a nursing assistant.
“Between me and my grandmother, we paid for school, but it wasn’t easy,” she says.
While in nursing school, Guyton excelled academically, but it wasn’t until she worked as a student nurse in the hospital and treated a young man who had sustained massive injuries in a car accident that she fully grasped the humanitarian aspect of nursing. “He was literally in pieces—arms broken, legs broken, neck broken. I was on that clinical (rotation) for about six months and I watched him get better every day and walk out of the hospital,” she says. “I knew then I wanted to be a part of that. Being a patient advocate as a nurse really aligned with what I was purposed to do.”
Guyton has always seen her role in life as one of an advocate. “My purpose is to be a voice for the people,” she says. “I was the voice for patients when I was a staff nurse. I was able to represent nurses at the technology table. I’m a voice for my professional community when I’m sitting at the table as a COO at 39,” she says.
But equally important to her is advocating for young women in the African-American community. She serves as a mentor to many through Widener University’s Black Student Union as well as through her high school alma mater and local Boys and Girls Clubs.
– Nat'e Guyton
As she settles in to her new job at the Society of Hospital Medicine, a nonprofit based in Philadelphia that represents 14,000 hospitals in the United States, Guyton says she’s been blessed to have many opportunities in her career.
“The one thing I hold on to is my purpose and my destiny. That is what propelled me where I am today and wherever I will be going in the future.”
For gainful employment information, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, please visit phoenix.edu/programs/gainful-employment.html.