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Terri McDonald: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you believe”

One of my passions is to inspire a nationwide movement to build affordable housing to help end homelessness. I also want to influence people to volunteer, help others. No matter how much money or time you have, there are so many ways to give back. Even the smallest gesture of kindness can brighten someone’s day […]

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One of my passions is to inspire a nationwide movement to build affordable housing to help end homelessness. I also want to influence people to volunteer, help others. No matter how much money or time you have, there are so many ways to give back. Even the smallest gesture of kindness can brighten someone’s day and inspire them!


As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Terri McDonald. Terri McDonald grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina. While pursuing her career as a model, Terri also acquired her degree in Nursing with a background in Business and Finance. Today, Terri is a Case Management Nurse and Staunch advocate of Gene Therapy as a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. She loves being a role model for women of all ages. She has received the Presidential Gold Medal for her Volunteer Service in the Community from President Obama. A huge Denver Broncos fan who loves the outdoors, she enjoys spending time with friends and loved ones, participating in church activities, playing with her dog, and looking for new ways to give back to the community. Helping those in need is what drives Terri and why she became a Nurse. Every day, she has the opportunity to connect with her patients & see their progress. Her passion has always been making lives better for children that are in foster care. Recently, she started the Safe Kidz Foundation, a charity dedicated to transforming the lives of foster kids. Kids in foster care often feel isolated and helpless, she wants to be their voice so they can have a chance at a better life. She grew up in foster care so she understands the challenges they face.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Early on, I became the first female ocean lifeguard in Myrtle Beach, and while pursuing my career as a model, I also acquired my degree in Business and Finance. Today, I am a Pediatric Oncology Nurse and staunch advocate of Gene Therapy as a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Helping those in need is what drives me and why I became a Nurse. Every day, I have the opportunity to connect with my patients & see their progress.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I’ll share two because they are beautiful. I was working in the NICU. A young woman has just given birth to a very premature baby. We had the baby under the incubator and when a nurse went to check the baby was not breathing. It took a few of us and the Doctor. We intubated the baby. The baby started to gain weight and breathe on her own. It was touch and go for a while but we did see a miracle. Nobody thought this baby would live.

The other most interesting time as a nurse was witnessing my first death. It was very heartbreaking and I actually had to take a few days off. You always form a unique bond with your patients. You’re not just taking care of patients, you’re also taking care of their families too. . I had a patient with Mesothelioma , cancer of the lungs making it very hard to breathe at times especially at the final stages. This patient was so at peace. To watch someone pass away in front of you for the first time is a feeling hard to explain. Then I had to notify the Doctor to get an order for the official TOD (time of death) then notify the family which was much harder. After that I called the mortuary which was my first time ever calling. I had to wait for the family to show up and mortuary meanwhile this was the night shift and I’m sitting here with this patient that had expired. My first experience ever. I was a little unraveled by this experience. After that I stopped working night shifts. But the experience from it all was amazing. It was as if he was completely at peace, no pain, a slight smile on his face.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Currently, I hold the title as Ms. Woman North Carolina United States . The past few years I have been blessed to be able to work with so many incredible organizations including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The LA Mission, Hearts, Hands & Hope, St. Jude’s, the Special Olympics of Southern California, the Salvation Army, United Way, & Everyone In.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is important because acceptance can’t occur without representation, everyone deserves to be represented fairly and equally. When people of different backgrounds come together, so many wonderful things are possible! In order for change to occur in our culture, we all need to be heard, listened to, and understood.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Get plenty of rest. Sleeping 7–8 hours per night is one of the simplest ways to look and feel better. I will leave an event early if I have to work in the morning.
  2. Spend as much time with family and friends as possible. It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life and lose touch with people.
  3. Don’t wait for the right time to start — just go for it! After competing in my first pageant just a few years ago, I realized it gave me a much-needed structure to become the best version of myself. I believe pageantry can help young women today become more poised and well-spoken as they find their voice.
  4. Care for yourself. Keep your health up. I am a people person and think of others first. I remind myself that if I am no good to my patients if I am the patient myself.
  5. Don’t take life for granted. Anything can change in an instant, be grateful for your loved ones and what you have!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Balance your lifestyle, don’t just focus on work . Keep a schedule and prioritize your time. My family and dog, Spot help keep me grounded and remind me that the simple things in life matter most.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One of my passions is to inspire a nationwide movement to build affordable housing to help end homelessness. I also want to influence people to volunteer, help others. No matter how much money or time you have, there are so many ways to give back. Even the smallest gesture of kindness can brighten someone’s day and inspire them!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I came out to California I had to wait a whole year to get my nursing license endorsed. I had to live in my car. I had to eat Ramen noodles because that was all I could afford. I met somebody who would help me out get me off my feet. This friend found me an Apartments in Thousand Oaks, this person paid my rent until I got my license and a secured job. They have been my friend ever since. Without them I don’t know where I would be today.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you believe” by Christopher Robin is one of my favorite quotes because I want kids to know that despite their obstacles if they are focused and determined, anything is possible. I grew up in foster care so I understand the challenges they face. Kids in foster care often feel isolated and helpless, I want to be their voice so they can have a chance at a better life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 😊

Barack Obama or Oprah

I’m truly inspired by Obama and what he has accomplished while in office such as the Affordable Care Act, legalization of gay marriage and much more. His motto was

“Change we can believe in”

I feel these are words we need to live by now to get our country back together and to make a change. If you know President Obama’s history, coming up, he lost his father. He has made so many accomplishments including the Nobel Prize. Ive read his books/ memoirs .

As far as Oprah I’ve watched her every since I was young girl and I loved watching her give away items on her show. I use to tell my mom I want to be like her. She’s so beautiful and nice. My mom said “you can”. There’s many ways to give back. So I started getting involved with my church activities, helping mom with charities. When I got older I went to Young Life and got involved with many events such as helping the shut in’s, building wheelchair ramps for those less fortunate, buying groceries or taking food to shut in’s or the homeless. She’s a big reason I started giving back to my community. And now today my platform is helping those experiencing homelessness.

So these two people are the ones I look up to and would love to have an opportunity to meet and learn more from them.

How can our readers follow you online?

Follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/terri.mcdonald.35 or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ms.womanncunitedstates

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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