Professional caring is the essence of nursing practice. Reflection on personal assumptions and beliefs challenge stereotypic views that influence professional caring and nursing care. An innovative educational pedagogy known as service learning creates an opportunity for students to reflect on self in the context of service to others; it is through this pedagogy that personal assumptions and beliefs are challenged as students become registered nurses.A qualitative descriptive study engaged undergraduate first and second year nursing students through interviews and reflections. The purposes of this study were to describe students’ perception of self and caring in service learning, any changes in the perceptions of self over time, and the connection of self to others. Results identified three major themes: understanding self, becoming a nurse and learning to care with increasing depth over the two years. Implications for nursing curriculum and further research are discussed.