Bonnie – A Nursing Student Success Story
Ever since I was a little girl, all I have ever wanted to be is a nurse. I come from a little town called Greenville, Texas. At age 13, I found myself in a series of group homes. At 16, I was emancipated.
I promptly dropped out of high school and got a GED. I attended one semester at Texas Women’s University, but I didn’t have the maturity to continue. So, I grabbed a backpack and started traveling around the country – and that’s probably another story, for another time! My travels brought me to Virginia in 1998. I met my husband and had three beautiful children.
My middle child Ruby was born with congenital heart disease and required numerous open heart surgeries. The nurses took countless hours to educate me and patiently explain things over and over. They supported my entire family at the same time that they were taking care of Ruby. This was such a gift to me. The only way to repay that kind of gift is to give it back to somebody else. I decided that this is what I would do.
In 2009, my husband and I split up. I had three small children, ages 9, 8, and 7. I had a GED. I had some waitressing skills. And I knew how to be a good mother. But I didn’t have a sustainable way to support my family. I enrolled in Lord Fairfax Community College and began to take the pre-requisite courses for the nursing program.
When I arrived on campus, I found incredible support from my professors. Professor Evan Humbert explained how to analyze something and then step back and see the big picture. He taught me how to study – to wake up early in the morning when my mind is sharpest. Many other professors helped me: Professor Hoke in English, Professor Myers in math, and Professors Simpson and Dingess in the science department.
This was a stressful time for me. I had three young children. I was trying to get good grades to be accepted into the very competitive nursing program. The TRIO program staff provided me with so much support.
The good news is that I was accepted into the nursing program!
I worked part-time at Cracker Barrel. Getting this degree was definitely a team effort. My kids were a huge help. They helped prepare dinner. My son chopped wood to keep us warm. I studied whenever I could. I studied at 4:30 in the morning. I listened to audio recordings while I cleaned the house. I had great mentors and preceptors during the program, like Nancy Lehman.
I am very proud to say that I graduated in May with an Associate Degree in Nursing and a 3.795 GPA. I was offered a job in the emergency room of Shenandoah Memorial Hospital. But before I could start the job, I needed to pass the NCLEX.
A few days before my trip to take the NCLEX, my old car broke down. I didn’t have the money to fix the rear drive shaft. I called my TRIO counselor at LFCC, and she contacted the Foundation to see if there was any way to help me. The Foundation gave me a $650 loan (which I have already paid back). I was able to get my car fixed, I passed the exam, and I am now a licensed RN.
My new job is fantastic! I love it so incredibly much that I jump out of bed ready to go to work in the mornings. I got my first paycheck, and the first thing I did was to take the kids out and buy them all new shoes – AT THE SAME TIME! I had never been able to do this before. I cried because I was so happy to finally be able to do that. The sales guy was really confused and didn’t understand why I was crying!
I think the best way to be successful is to make the people around you successful. So, I want to thank all of you for supporting your local community college and the students.