Life as a freshman at Washington State University was a culture shock to Jen, who had lived what she describes as a somewhat sheltered life until then. The college felt huge and the culture was nothing like what she was used to at her small religious high school. It was a tough adjustment, and when she found herself with an unintended pregnancy and grades that were slipping, she dropped out and moved back home with her parents. “I didn’t know where to go with my life, or how I was going to make it,” she recalls. “But I knew I couldn’t just live at home and not do anything.”
She had previously worked as a nurse’s aid at a nursing home, and she wanted to go back to college and enroll in a nursing program to get her Bachelor’s degree. To do so, she needed to figure out how to finance her education. Her parents would help with childcare, but tuition was going to be a challenge. Still, she knew if she wanted to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse, she was going to have to figure it out. And that was going to involve an uncomfortable shift in mindset.
“Being a single mom, I had this mindset that I could do it on my own. But to do it meant stepping back and realizing that I did need help—and being able to ask for it,” she says.
Her college advisor recommended that she apply for scholarships and pointed her toward WWIN.
“It’s kind of scary and overwhelming at times to do one more application, but once I applied everything fell into place. Everyone at WWIN was really on top of it and they were so encouraging. They made the process of figuring out tuition payments so easy.”
The team at WWIN also made sure Jen knew she could use her scholarship money for school-related costs beyond just tuition. Her scholarship helped pay for some of the other miscellaneous things she’d need for her program: school supplies, a stethoscope, and scrubs.
When Christmas rolled around, Jen worried that she didn’t have much money to buy gifts for her daughter. So WWIN decided to play Santa. “We were so, so blessed and surprised by the Christmas gifts that year. The generosity was a huge blessing,” she says.
During her final year of nursing school she bought a used textbook through a Facebook community. The person who sold Jen the textbook offered to introduce her to someone at a surgery center, and that new connection resulted in a job offer. Now she supports patients with pre-surgery anxiety, helps them wake up after surgery, and helps with pain management.
Someday she’d like to be a labor and delivery nurse, but she’s enjoying her current role so much that she’s in no hurry to change. She says that her team at the surgery center feels like family.
Jen is grateful that she was able to complete her nursing program and start a career that’s bringing economic stability to her and her daughter. She wants to encourage other women in similar situations to do the same: enroll in college and get resourceful in finding ways to cover tuition, including applying for a scholarship through WWIN. “It never hurts to try,” she says.
Covid is posing new challenges as her daughter is home doing distance learning and initially her work schedule was impacted. She jokes that “this is why I went to school for nursing, not teaching.”
And yet, she’s happy to be able to raise her daughter while doing what she loves. ”I just want to thank the donors and encourage other people. I felt super lost and this helped bridge the gap to help me get from point A to point B.”
Watch her story.