I guess you could call me a late bloomer. I started college laterin life around my mid twenties because I never thought it was an option for me, or so I was told. Raised by two lower income alcoholic grandparents, theyimpressed upon me that I would never go to college because that was for “rich folks”. My last surviving grandparent passed away just before I turned eighteen, which left me on my own. I lived with friends and hung around a bad crowd which eventually led me into some trouble when I was 18.This was an instant kick in the pants lesson in maturity, and a big reality check. I found myself at a crossroads in life, in one direction I could turn out like my grandparents, and the other direction I could make something of myself. Instead of accepting a lifestyle of negativity, I decided to turn my life around in a positive way. I worked odd low paying jobs and eventually began working as an automotive mechanic apprentice at a small classic car restoration business.
Higher education was always mystery to me, it had my interest, but I was too intimidated to apply. I didn’t know anything about student loans or other financial assistance and couldn’t imagine how I would be able to pay for classes. I always dreamt of getting a degree and having a satisfying career, but didn’t know where to start or even what career path I wanted to take. My grandparent’s only career advice was to get a job as soon as possible, and that was it. If you worked hard enough and were lucky, you mightbe able to move up in a company and eventually retire. I liked working with my hands and helping others with their transportation needs, but it was always missing something. My best friend’s sister was a Registered Nurse who worked in home health at the time. I became very curious about her job because I saw how much she enjoyed helping others. I found myself interviewing her on how she got started and what steps it would take to become a nurse, I probably asked her a thousand questions. She suggested I work in a healthcare environment for a little while to see if that is what I really wanted to do. I applied to a Long-term care facility and became a certified nurse’s assistant. After working as a CNA for a while, I realized I had found my calling in life. I could finally help others and see a tangible impact I had on their lives.
The local college in Cleburne, Texas only offered a Licensed Vocational Nursing program, but I knew it was a start. This was my chance and I finally built up enough courage to go speak with a school counselor. In Novemberof 1997 I was officially enrolled in my first college course. I was shocked at how reasonable the price was for a college course and wondered what had taken me so long to build up the courage. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. This was a big stepin my life because I had already gone further than anyone in my family. After my first test I realizedcollegewasn’t nearly as intimidating and difficult as I once thought. At that point it dawned on me that college wasn’t just an elite club for rich people, we were all on the same level playing field. I quickly appreciated how much more rewarding it was than high school and that you only get out what you put in. Once I started paying for my own classes, I gained a whole new appreciation for study time. I eventually gained enough pre-requisite courses to apply to the LVN program and when I was accepted I thought I had won the lottery since 100 people usually apply and only 30 were accepted. I graduated the LVN program in December 2001 and although no one attended my pinning ceremony, I felt as though I had really achieved something.
I was finally working as a nurse and enjoying my job for the first time. It didn’t take long to realize my new role had many limitations. In Texas, an LVN always has to work under an RN and is limited in the tasks they can perform. I now knew I had to become a Registered Nurse and started taking more pre-requisite course and at local Community college in McKinney, Texas. Collin County Community College in McKinney Texas, was offering an Associate’s Degree RN program but I would have to start over and complete the full two year program. About18 miles away, Grayson County Community College offered an LVN-RN ADN transitional program that was only 15 months, so I applied and was accepted. By this time I was already married and had two children living at home, which meant I attended school full time and worked full time hours every weekend. I graduated May 2006 with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science of Nursing and had finally achieved my goal, or so I thought. Joanna Barnes, ADN Program Director was a great inspiration to me during my time in the LVN-ADN program and encouraged me to pursue a baccalaureate degree.
I quickly realized that an Associate’s degree doesn’t get you very far in the modern world of nursing. I enrolled in more pre-requisite courses at a local community collegeto prepare for the BSN program offered at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. During a scheduled meeting with a counselor at Texas Woman’s University was the first time I heard the term “professional nurse”. She informed me that without a Bachelor’s degree, you’re not really considered a “professional nurse”. The RN-BSN program was the perfect fit for me because it was mainly online courses with the exception of clinical rotations which allowed me to work full time and attend classes full time. The program director Jo-Ann Stankus was a blessing in my life because she was flexible and understanding with my clinical rotations. I even managed to get on the Chancellor’s list for achieving a 4.0 GPA during my last semester, which is noted on my latest transcript. I graduated December, 2013 and finally received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. I’ve been working as an RN Case Manager for the past four years with a pediatric home health therapy company in Dallas, Texas. I have enjoyed the case management work, but I really miss the direct patient care aspects that led me to this profession.
My wife and I visited a friend in Knoxville, Tennessee several years ago and fell in love with the scenery and general area. Having lived in Texas flat land my entire life, Tennessee was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. The mountains, tall trees, and water were like a foreign country compared to where I live. This past year my wife and I decided we are movingto Knoxville this year after our son graduates high school. Our youngest daughter is 11 years old and will be graduating from elementary to middle school which is the perfect time for a move. We spent the Christmas week of 2014in Knoxville with a real estate friend or ourslooking at new houses which only re-enforced our desire to permanently relocate. While in Knoxville, my family and I spent several hours walking around your campus and wereamazed by its beauty, size, and history. Once we sell our home here in Texas this summer we will be moving to the Knoxville areaaround mid-July 2015.
I have a compact state nursing license so the transfer should be seamless. I recently renewed my CPR/BLS, ACLS, and just completed the PALS certification. I and plan to apply for an ICU nursing position at the University Of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville just before we move in July 2015. My short term goal is to move away from the management side of nursing and sharpen my clinical skills in a hospital setting once we move to Knoxville. I recent applied to the Army Reserves Nurse Corps.
My recruiter is signing me up for the Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP), which pays for the entire program and provides a monthly stipend. The STRAP program will enable me to focus all of my attention on school without the extra stresses of a full time job. Once I complete the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) at the end of this February 2015, I will be commissioned as an officer and enter the Army Reserves as a 19’Lieutenant.
Becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist has been a long standing dream and career goal of mine. I would be extremelyhonored to be accepted as a graduate student and attend yourCRNA Program at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I understand how competitive and difficult it can to get accepted into your CRNA program; therefore my second choice would be to attend your Master’s degree Family Nurse Practitioner program. I know I have the focus, aptitude and determination to really excel in such a motivating environment such as your NP program. I would like to firstgraduate from your Master’s CRNA Program, and then later apply toyourDNP program. Getting accepted into your Graduate schoolwould not only allow me to pursue my dreams, it will also be anexcellent teaching tool for my children. My children know that I come from a humble background and I want to show by example that if you work hard enough, anyone can achieve their dreams.