Growing up, I was never a kid that knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I went through phases of wanting to be a teacher, a doctor, a vet, a ballerina; all the things little girls say they want to be. It wasn’t until my high school AP biology class that I really started to fall in love with human anatomy and the medical field. It was fascinating to learn about the way the body works and why. However, I never thought being a nurse was something I could do. Nurses were smart, brave, confident, bold, and courageous - all the things I was not. So, I went away to college and flip-flopped between a bunch of majors before I settled on public health.
It wasn’t until two years after graduating college I had a heart-to-heart with my parents. I wasn’t finding a job in the public health field, and I was unhappy working my retail job. It wasn’t fulfilling for me, and I knew I had more to give. With their profound encouragement, I applied to Elgin Community College’s nursing program (of which my aunt is also a graduate) and was fortunate to be accepted. Then the world took a turn. I started nursing school in August of 2020, when COVID-19 was still a new fear throughout the country. People weren’t leaving their homes, and we wore masks everywhere we went while bathing in hand sanitizer once we returned home.
In my second week of school, my dad got sick. We all got sick. COVID swept through my family, and while some had minimal to no symptoms, my dad’s fight was much more difficult. In October, he lost his battle with COVID. It was a devastating blow to our family when we had hoped and prayed for so long that we would make a full recovery. We said our goodbyes without being able to hear his voice tell us how much we all meant to him. I would be lying if I said I didn’t lie awake at night wanting to drop out, give up my dream, quit everything and crawl into a hole and never come out.
But I kept going. I kept going for my mom, my brothers, myself, and my dad. I wouldn’t stop. I wouldn’t give up. I gave everything I had into this program while grieving and still maintaining a full-time job. Here I am today, four semesters later, about to graduate nursing school having discovered a passion for working with kids. I know my dad would be proud of me. I know he would want me to keep going.
The last words my dad said to me were, “you’re going to be an amazing nurse,” and I have no intentions of doing anything but that.
Madeleine Ryan '22
Associate of Applied Science
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