Becoming More, Achieving Greatness
For some students, their education is a door into a world of possibilities. Nursing alumni, Jodi Church was always looking for something more and found that door of possibilities through the Ferris Nursing Rn to BSN program.
“I started out with a business communication degree, I have my EMS and then I worked in the ER as a tech before I got my nursing. So, I decided in my forties that it was a great idea to go back to nursing school.”
But for Church, life continued around her as she aspired for new achievements. Three children later and while working two jobs, Church decided to return to school for her BSN, and through Ferris, it was easy to make her dreams a reality.
“Three kids, single mom. I needed to do something a little different. My business communication degree, I loved it, but I wanted to do more so that is when I got into EMS. And then after five years, I needed to do something different, so I was an ER tech for five years and then I needed something more, I wanted to do more. So, I was already in the medical field and thought, ‘Let’s go for nursing.’ I went to Montcalm Community College for my associate's and then got into a different ER and here I am.”
With a full workload and being a mom to three kids, being a student was no easy feat. But, with lots of help and encouragement, Jodi was able to receive her bachelor's degree from Ferris this past May.
“It was really cool when I graduated with my RN to have [my kids] out in the crowd and you know your kids' voices and your families' voices, they would scream ‘That’s my mom!’ So, that was really cool. Or they would be like ‘only this many more weeks,’ or ‘you got it.’ They were just very helpful and encouraging and like I said, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if I would’ve continued. It was stressful. I had many nights of not sleeping. I’d go to work and then have schoolwork or stay up half the time just to get schoolwork done; trying to balance work and home life. Trying to be a mom and a student and a co-worker, it was tough.”
While this wasn’t her first degree, the support she received not only from her family but from Ferris faculty and advisors was a breath of fresh air.
“It's hard but it's worth it and you can easily get through it because the professors are just amazing. They work with you if you need more time for a deadline because they understand that you're also working, usually, you’re a parent or you just have life beyond being in school. So, it was amazing to just have that constant communication with them. If you needed a little extra time, they were so willing to give that.”
Now that her time at Ferris is done and she has completed the nursing program, she recalled her time as a student and what made Ferris the right fit for her, and her journey as a non-traditional student.
“The professors are very accommodating. I have three kids, so I have a busy schedule with that and then working a full-time job and I actually have a part-time job also. It was nice that they were so accommodating.”
When asked about what made this journey possible, Church couldn’t say enough about the exceptional faculty that helped guide her and take some of the workloads off her already busy schedule.
“[This program] is very well organized and I had an advisor that I would be like ‘okay, what classes do I need next,’ and I remember when I was a traditional student [at my previous college] you just had to do all of that by yourself. At Ferris, I would just email my advisor and I would be like, ‘what’s my next step,’ or ‘what classes do I need to take,’ and she would be like ‘here is this, do you want me to sign you up,’ I feel like I didn’t really have to do anything. I would be in touch with her and she would sign me up for the classes. I didn’t have to do anything, she just did it for me, which was nice because it just takes a little bit of that stress out. I cannot believe how helpful and willing they were to help along the way.”
This experience was important to Church. She had a lot riding on accomplishing this dream. “I literally took out student loans because I didn’t really have the extra cash sitting aside,” she shared. But for her, it was more than the money and sleepless nights.
“[My kids] helped me keep going and they are what made it worth it and I feel that being a nontraditional student, I had more drive than if I just graduated from high school. I knew I had to do it. I didn’t have help from anybody, this was my money, so it meant more, and I wanted it more. And I wanted my kids to see that you know, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still change your career no matter how old you are and still succeed. It was cool for my kids to see that and be on that journey with me. Had it not been for them, they were my rock and helped get me through all of that.”
Throughout her schooling and even now, Church worked nights as an ER nurse at Sparrow Ionia Hospital. Her hard work and dedication not only showed in her time as a student but also as an employee, as a nurse, and as a colleague.
“Every year, Sparrow has a Nurse of the Year and people get nominated. So, I was nominated by one of my co-workers, and then [people] vote for one person. And then in May, I got Nurse of the Year for Sparrow Ionia.”
Even through tired eyes from her sleepless days and nights being a mom, student, and nurse, Church shared her love for her job. She also shared some advice for prospective students or anyone who is unsure of changing their career course in the forties.
“It’s never too late. It doesn’t matter how old you are or young you are. You can change careers at any time. You know, it’s hard sometimes but it's not too late. You want to be happy with what career choice you’ve chosen, and you don’t want to be stuck in a job that you hate going to daily.”