From High School Dropout to DNP Student

Content courtesy of Verizon.

I had known I wanted to be a nurse since I was a child. I used to wrap my stuffed animals, friends, and family in bandages and always tried to help others. But getting there wasn’t easy.

Melanie Anon, RN

I had a hard upbringing with a single mom and a father who was a refugee from the Czech Republic. My father had struggles of his own, so it wasn’t surprising when he disappeared from my life completely when I was in my early 20s. And during my teenage years, my relationship with him caused me a lot of distress.

I dropped out of high school during my sophomore year, leaving my family disappointed and not very hopeful.

I was asked to leave my home, so I started living with a friend to get by. But after couch surfing for a few years, I learned that friendly handouts and hospitality are not enough to sustain a life, so I applied to college.

I was emancipated at 17 and earned my GED, so I was legally allowed to admit myself to a local university in New Mexico. That’s when I decided to pursue nursing. But my inner turmoil and the lack of support from my family drained my motivation to complete my degree, and I dropped out.

Life Goes On

I got married at 19, and my husband at the time encouraged me to pursue a job that made me feel happy. I found a fast-track medical assistant program for $3,800 that would let me sit for the national CMA certificate after only six months. After completing the program, I landed my first job at a pediatric office and quickly found out that peds wasn’t for me. I couldn’t stand to see children in pain.

I started working at an urgent care center in Tucson, Arizona, where I met a doctor who encouraged me. He went on and on for hours one day about how smart I was and how I needed to become a registered nurse.

I argued with him. I didn’t think I was capable of finishing college after years of failure. But six months later I divorced my husband and moved back to Phoenix to pursue my dreams.

I was a 21-year-old divorcee, returning to college with only a sophomore high school education. I studied for weeks to test into 101 classes again so I could avoid classes that did not count for credit. I was on my way, but a meeting with a counselor to make my nursing major official took the wind out of my sails.

It turns out there was a three-year waiting list for any nursing program, and the university I hoped to attend would not accept any students with less than a 3.8 GPA and high TEAS scores. Everyone told me it was impossible to get in. I spent many nights crying about it.

Each class was harder than the next, but I told myself that even though I hadn’t gotten an A since middle school, …read more

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