A member of the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association approached her with an update: Elizabeth had been selected for an $8,000 nursing scholarship award.
“The news really made it the best day ever,” she said.
Elizabeth has been caring for others since her earliest memories. Growing up in a family of 11 in the small town of Jamestown, North Carolina provided plenty of opportunities to support family members and form close relationships with those around her. Back then the town had “one grocery store and two banks,” and the first traffic light was installed just recently.
“There weren’t a lot of options growing up in a small town, but I had my family and I worked as a nursing assistant in high school,” she said.
Today, Elizabeth is earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through an RN to BSN program with the Madison School of Healthcare of Ashworth College while working at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was recently recognized as a Great 100 Nurses in North Carolina 2017 award winner for her outstanding performance.
“I am very busy – I work full time at the hospital, have a second job with a company that develops online education for intensive care nurses, am involved in several hospital committees and I make trips out of town to see family often,” she said. “The Madison program is self-paced, it’s all online and works a lot better for what my schedule is today than other degree options.”
As a nurse for 32 years, Elizabeth made the commitment to go back to school to get her BSN because she recognizes the importance of continuing her education for career advancement. While she completed her nursing diploma program in 1985, her shift schedules and work as a travel nurse made going back to school seem almost impossible.
“I always wanted to go back to school, but there were no online programs back then,” she said. “I was telling people to go back to school but I wasn’t doing it myself.”
Upon entering the program with Madison, Elizabeth received multidimensional support that helped in her educational pursuit.
“Ashworth College worked with me on the classes I had taken 30 years ago, and let me use some of those credits to transfer and help me along,” she said. “Not only that, but my advisor Sandy Kleiman in our nursing program talks with me every week. We make plans and review where I stand. I was very surprised and happy that my online school offered this level of support.”
After years commuting to spend time with one of her brothers every other weekend, Elizabeth is planning to move closer to him in order to be more involved with his care.
“I’ll be moving towards where my brother lives about 100 miles away from Charlotte – and my online program will move with me. I get to continue the work I’m doing for my education.”
In order to be considered for the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association scholarship, Elizabeth wrote an essay illustrating her reasons for going back to school, goal to progress in her current role of bedside nursing, and life-long mission to improve her work providing direct care.
Elizabeth’s scholarship will help offset her tuition and costs of pursuing her RN-BSN degree program and help push her career forward. She is constantly looking for ways to mentor and encourage younger healthcare and nursing professionals to help them advance their careers.
“The younger you are, the more important it is that you just go and do it,” she said. “As a nurse who wishes she hadn’t waited so long, I strongly recommend anyone starting out in this field that has an associate degree to go ahead and get your bachelor’s degree in nursing.”
Healthcare and nursing scholarships are available nationwide, and applying for them can be easy.