Caring for the Children

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ORLANDO, Fla. ( – Since she was three years old, Nyala Shuler has dreamed of becoming a doctor. As she got older, her focus narrowed to pediatric care.
"Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was a nurse," Shuler said. "I always wanted to be a doctor, and as I got older, I realized that I really had a passion for kids."
Her passion for children could be a family trait as well. The Orlando, Fla., native's mother, Kathy, has been in the education field for more than 27 years, while her father, Tim, has over 15 years of experience in the education system.
"My family wasn't upset that I wanted to be a doctor," Shuler laughed. "I didn't carry on the tradition of being a teacher or being in the education system, but they're really big supporters. They're doing all of this studying about what I need to do to get in to grad school. They've really been helpful."
Kathy, who is an associate superintendent in Orange County, credited her mother, now a retired nurse, for Shuler's medical dreams. As for the pediatric focus, she pointed a little closer to home.
"She has grown up in that environment," she said of Nyala's love for children. "We're thrilled that she wants to be able to give back to the community. She wants to give back to children in order to help them stay healthy and well and be productive in life."
When the time came to make a decision on where she would be furthering her education, Shuler didn't have to look very long. She verbally committed to the Knights women's basketball team during her junior year at Edgewater High School.
"UCF is close to home and I'm able to play in front of my parents," Shuler said of her decision to stay in The City Beautiful. "My grandmother's at almost every home game. It means a lot to be able to play in my city and play in front of my family."
When head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson took over for the Knights prior to the 2016-17 season, Shuler sat down to discuss her career goals.
"I was a little surprised," Shuler said. "When I told her what I wanted to do, she got really excited about it. She put in extra effort for something that was outside of basketball, which really meant a lot to me."
Coach Abe is determined to help Shuler – and every member of her squad – reach their goals.
"Growing up, I didn't have a lot of role models," Coach Abe said. "I wanted to make sure our young women could emulate another woman out there in the community. Basketball's awesome, but this is just a platform to get women to their next journey. To see Nyala want to be a pediatrician, that's super exciting to me."
The redshirt sophomore keeps a busy schedule, running from weight lifting sessions to classes to practice to tutoring sessions. As a health sciences pre-clinical major, her class schedule is full of chemistry and physics courses.
Shuler is on track earn her bachelor's degree by summer 2017. With two years of eligibility remaining, her goal is to continue playing basketball while pursuing a graduate degree at UCF. After that, it's off to medical school and then on to care for the children.