I wasn’t a strong high school student, I got kicked out of three schools and then I was told I had to finish another year of high school to graduate, I didn’t want to be a fifth year senior! Fortunately I was doing running start at Seattle Central College and they told me that since I was already being successful in college I could get a GED instead of doing another year of high school. They helped me get all my application fees waived, but I didn’t get into any of the schools I wanted to go to!
Then I got a call from a friend who was going to St John’s University in New York City, she knew I wanted to be a teacher and thought I would like it there. I applied and they accepted me and helped me through the financial aid and scholarship process. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in English and Secondary Education.
Even though high school was a struggle and I was on my own as an emancipated minor, I was close to my grandfather and I also had amazing support outside my family. My English teacher kept in touch with me all through the rest of college and I had friends with amazing parents who were role models for me. They all helped me do what I wanted to do, which was teaching. I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to help people and I saw how some of my teachers helped me and supported me so much.
I started working as a teacher in an alternative school and I poured everything into supporting my students. Sometimes there was conflict with other teachers who didn’t want to go as far as I did. I felt isolated, incredibly tired and I was making no money! I’m the kind of person that when something isn’t right I will change it so I quit that job and started working as a bartender and a nanny.
I wanted to figure things out and then my grandfather got sick. He was in hospice care and I learned from the nurse who to came to the house to care for him how to do IV bags and other medical treatments that they taught me because he was more comfortable with me than them. One of the nurses encouraged me to pursue nursing and my grandfather saw I was good and it and loved it and he pushed me too. I didn’t want to do more school! Especially not all the prerequisite classes since I had an English degree before.
I decided to do it and I started at trade school and became a Certified Nursing Assistant, then a Medical Assistant and then a Licensed Practical Nurse along the way. This let me break up all that school into more manageable amounts and get certifications along the way so it wasn’t as overwhelming. I was also able to work the whole time and get lots of experience with patients.
What do you wish you had known when you were a high school senior?
I wish I had known that no choice is perfect! In high school you’re still figuring things out and I wish I had been less hard on myself. There are so many options besides going straight to a college or university that might work for you! I eventually did trade school to get my first nursing classes, and I wish I had known in high school that I could do that.
What is your favorite thing about being an adult?
For me it’s been labeled as an adult. I was emancipated when I was 15 so I’ve been an adult a long time! But no one treats you with that respect when you’re a teenager. I didn’t like being called a “kid” with all that responsibility. I like being seen as adult now making my own choices.
What’s the best thing about your job?
There’s so many! I get to help people do the one thing that most people are so afraid of, which is dying. I get to be there for them at the end of their life and help them on their journey, kind of like a midwife on the other end. If anyone has to do it, I want to be that person.