A self-described learner and explorer, Joe dove headfirst into her nursing career, wanting to pursue every opportunity available to her. Expanding beyond her military nursing roots, she worked in home health, correctional nursing, psychiatric nursing, pediatric nursing, wound care, flu and wellness, occupational health, detox, rehab, labor and delivery, and the ICU. Gaining such vast experience was exhilarating for Joe, if not a little exhausting. She loved advocating for her patients and serving as an inspiration to her two young children. But she knew she was capable of even more; and in 2018, she began researching nursing program in her home state of Florida.
Right away, she decided Barry University was the perfect fit. On her prospective-student visit, she was greeted warmly and guided around campus to meet her future faculty mentors. “I was not treated like a number,” she says. “Everyone was personable. I had one-on-one time.” She was equally inspired by Barry’s core values of scholarship and service, which aligned with her vision for her own nursing career. She enrolled in the BSN program and was honored to receive the Baptist Bond Scholarship, an award granted to promising students in partnership with Baptist Health South Florida. As a Bond Scholar, Joe earned $20,000 toward tuition and gained robust clinical training with one of the region’s top-rated health-care systems.
With nearly a decade of nursing experience behind her, Joe was poised for the challenges of attending Barry’s BSN program full time while continuing to work as an LPN and remain the involved parent she had always been. She relied on guidance from her Barry mentors and friends as well as local resources, whenever she found herself struggling to meet her commitments, let alone find a moment to herself. “At times I just had to learn to let go of things that could wait and make myself a priority,” she says. She made sure to keep her body healthy by working out and scheduled at least 30 minutes for herself each day.
But the greatest challenges arrived in spring of 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic. Now in the final year of her nursing program at Barry, Joe found herself juggling the new realities of virtual schooling for both her children and the strain of nursing critically ill patients. She also dealt with personal loss. “I faced many hurdles and mountains,” she says. “Loss of income, loss of support, the passing of a close friend and family members, taking care of family members.” Relying on her well-tested grit, Joe focused on solving the problems she could solve and finding support where she needed it. “I dealt with the majority of my issues by thinking outside the box, seeking help, being active, advocating for myself, and taking care of my mental health and spirituality.”
Her determination paid off. In August of this year, she earned her BSN from Barry, completing a significant step in her journey toward a terminal degree in her field. She wants to continue learning so that she can enlighten future generations of nurses, but she also plans to keep practicing wherever she is most needed. “Many areas of nursing interest me,” she says. “My goal is to continue advocating for my patients and veterans. I want to make a difference in people’s lives.”