Graduation is fast approaching on the horizon for some, while the completion of another quarter brings others closer to their goal. As this quarter comes to an end, I am excited and saddened to announce that I will be leaving the Globe University-Wausau family, at least in respect of being on campus on a regular basis and actively teaching. I will be returning to my “nursing love” of dialysis to work as a RN Facility Administrator.
My time teaching here, as well as being a student, has helped me in many ways and has been a key part of my professional growth. I have had many talks with students regarding how difficult it can be to go to school and the stressors associated with it. When I see the struggle and pain in their eyes, I see my reflection. I understand and wish for them the greatest success. If there is one thing I could say, it would be, “It gets better and it’s worth it.”
I’ve also had students tell me, “You don’t understand, you have a good job, aren’t just starting out, and you have a successful partner, I am really struggling.” It’s not the first time I have heard this, and though now things in life may appear rosier to some, there was a time it wasn’t always that way. Most people don’t just become successful or have economic and employment stability. Those things usually have to be worked for; myself and other instructors are no exception.
I started my education journey many years ago; I was a CNA right out of high school and continued to work as an aid for six years. I was a single mother living in Wausau with no family or friends. Working was all I did. During that time I worked in nursing homes on the dementia unit. This was some of the hardest work I have ever done, and those who have or do work as an aid can attest to that. I worked long hours at a tough job for little pay. I decided I needed more. As single mother I was struggling to survive above anything than basic needs. It was then that I started nursing school, and though I knew I had the ability to be a registered nurse I couldn’t stay out of the workforce that long. I decided to complete my license practical nursing degree so I could get back into the workforce quicker.
During this time, from age 19 until about 25, I was in very dire financial straits. I received food stamps, state health insurance, day care assistance, and just about any other program out there. I had no family in Wausau and as a single parent faced many difficult days of missing school, work, deciding to either make a car payment or buy food, pay rent or medical bills. There were times my utilities were shut off and I had no money for food and faced eviction. Often I thought of giving up, quitting school and resigning to my “fate” of giving up my dream to be a nurse.
The one thing I want to stress throughout this is I never felt ashamed for the help I was receiving, and to this day I have no problem sharing my story about being on state assistance. If you are striving to better yourself and the lives of your loved ones, have pride in yourself, even if you need help to do it. I had a case worker who lacked quite a bit of empathy and I often left appointments feeling bad. I told her at one of our appointments, “This isn’t it for me, no situation will stop me from getting an education and making my and my daughter’s lives better.”
She responded that she was happy I was going to finish my GED, even though I was I high school graduate and entering college, as if due to my life circumstances, she assumed I was not capable of a higher education and was just going to finish my high school diploma. It was not the first time and would be the last time I felt someone underestimated me. Those moments serve as motivation rather than stumbling blocks. “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”
Several years later I went back to school and finished my nursing degree to finally becoming a registered nurse. There were times I felt like I wasn’t a “real nurse” during this process. I knew inside I was intelligent, a good nurse, and as capable as anyone else. Yet financial circumstances and trying to juggle work and life as a single mom made it hard to go back to school. It was an internal struggle, but again, nothing was going to stop me from the education I wanted. I knew I had a “process” to complete, that I wouldn’t just get the career I wanted. I needed to continue my education and gain experience.
This May it will be 11 years that I have been a nurse and have completed Globe University’s bachelor’s health care management degree program. I have a very supportive significant other who has helped me, supported me, and pushed me through this phase of my career, which has made it a little easier than it was in the beginning and for that I’m grateful, but that hasn’t made it easy. We both tell our children the education is the one thing no one can take from you. It gets you more than a degree; it opens your eyes, your possibilities, and your future. If you are determined to succeed, you will; it may take time, there may be hurdles, and you may feel like giving up, but it’s all worth it in the end.
The moral of this story to my students? Education and experience both take time. College should help you think and give you basic skills and knowledge. You have to earn the rest, and you will, if you stick to it. There were, and still are, many jobs I would like that I’m simply not qualified for. That doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent and capable, or that my education wasn’t worth it and didn’t do its job. It just means I need to hit the pavement and earn those things if I want them.
Do something today that your future self will be proud of and thank you for. Find your niche and become the best at it; for me it’s dialysis, for others it may be family practice, endocrinology, teaching, or caring for animals. Never stop learning and striving to do your best, and most of all, I am proud to be part of the Globe family and I am proud of our students.
By Jessica Dale, RN, B.S. Healthcare Management Graduate, Former Medical Assistant Adjunct Instructor Globe University-Wausau