April 11, 2023

From the Ashes

By B&SC Blog Team

From the Ashes

Balancing school with everyday life can be a challenge for anyone, particularly if you have the added responsibility of being a parent. Bryant & Stratton nursing student, and mother, Jennifer Strange was managing her workload in stride and was only two classes away from graduating from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. However, her collegiate career came crashing to a halt when tragedy struck, forcing her to step away and put her career aspirations on hold.

Jennifer’s path to nursing school began with an unhealthy relationship. “I had my son, and his father was not the greatest person,” she said. “Not necessarily abusive or anything like that, but he had his own demons. So, I went into medical assistance so that I could get on my feet and take care of my son on my own, because working at McDonald’s was not an option. His father did clean up for a while, but when I got into nursing school, things started going south quickly and we ended up separated.”

Life at Bryant & Stratton

Jennifer joined Bryant & Stratton’s BSN program in 2013. Her experience with the school and the program was a positive one. “You have to learn how to be self-sufficient,” said Jennifer. “It’s college. It’s a grown-up world. You learn what you want to learn. And if you want to succeed, you have to apply yourself.”

Jennifer was not only self-sufficient but found that she was able to offer assistance to her fellow classmates. “The school noticed that I was tutoring other students, so they compensated me for my efforts through the Federal Work Study Program,” said Jennifer. “So, I worked for the school while I was going to school, helping the other nursing students and potential nursing students.” While she had not anticipated doing any kind of teaching, it was something she fully embraced. “I truly enjoyed going to nursing school. I felt like I was on the path that I was supposed to be on. I’ve never seen myself as being a teacher, but I found ways to understand things which I was then able to pass on to others.”

Tragedy Strikes

With only two classes left to finish the program, Jennifer was on course to graduate on time. That was, until she was met with horrific news. Her grandfather, with whom she was incredibly close, committed suicide. “My grandparents were everything to me,” said Jennifer. “They lived across the street from me my entire life. So, when they moved down to southern Ohio, my son and I drove the three hours every weekend to see them.”

Rather than return to school for her last semester, Jennifer dropped everything to help take care of her grandmother. She then received more unwelcome news – her son’s father had overdosed. “He survived, but between trying to protect my son and do the best that I could for him, and then dealing with the devastating loss of my grandfather, I gave up,” admitted Jennifer. “I had no initiative.”

Nearly five years passed, and in that time, Jennifer continued her work as a medical assistant. It was COVID that turned out to be a real pivot point for her. “COVID allowed me to see things in a whole different light,” said Jennifer. “I was one of the only medical assistants that would work six or seven days a week. I always went above and beyond. I never called in. I’m not that type of person. I’m going to work my butt off. I think there were one or two other medical assistants that were volunteering to do the drive-through COVID swaps. I looked around and I thought, ‘I’m not where I should be. I should be doing what these nurses are doing, I should be compensated the way I knew they were being compensated.’ I had the same knowledge as them, but I didn’t have the piece of paper that said I did.”

Getting Back on the Horse

Jennifer made an appointment with Bryant & Stratton’s Dean of Instruction, Linda Jackson. “She had my transcripts in front of her,” said Jennifer. “She was looking at them, and she said, ‘I remember you. You tutored everybody else that was here. You’re way too smart to not have your degree. Dean Jackson offered to reach out and see what she could do about getting Jennifer re-enrolled.

Jennifer was allowed to return to her nursing studies at Bryant & Stratton with no time lost, though with one caveat – that she took and passed seven Assessment Technology Institute (ATI) proctored exams for each class that she had already taken to ensure she remained competent in these classes. “I had to pass the ATI exams, which is the program that we use to prepare you for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam,” said Jennifer. “Even as good as I was back then, time was not my friend at that point. I had a part-time job and a full-time job, so I quit my part time job in April, and I studied every single day until August. I passed all 7 exams and scored the absolute highest that you can score on 5 of them.”

Jennifer is currently working in the operating room at the Level 1 trauma center at MetroHealth Ohio City Health Center in Cleveland and will be walking the stage at Bryant & Stratton’s graduation in May, which coincidentally is a week before her son graduates from high school. “He’s very mature for his age,” Jennifer said of her son. “He’s had to deal with experiences most kids his age don’t have to deal with. He wrote me a card for Valentine’s Day, and he’s not a kid that shows emotion. All he was trying to do was express how proud he was of me, and how I’ve inspired him. There is nothing anybody could ever do to replace the way that I felt when I read that card.”

Related News