WEST POINT, NE – Every little bit of time can be a big help for Northeast Community College nursing student Alicia Isner. From preparing meals for the entire week on Sundays to attending a sewing group on Mondays to taking her daughter to dance on Thursdays, to attending classes at Northeast Community College nearly every day of the week, Isner’s schedule often sounds more than a little overwhelming.
Yet despite her many commitments, Isner, Oakland, graduated from Northeast in May with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).
Part of her secret is that throughout her college career, she utilized both the Norfolk campus and the West Point extended campus to complete her courses.
“When I drove to Norfolk, I had to drive an hour, so when I drove to West Point (from Oakland), it was only about 15 or 20 minutes, so it was nice, especially when I had testing days, and I had to be there atseven o’clock in the morning. I didn’t have to leave as early.”
And with a schedule as busy as Isner’s, some extra minutes throughout the week always came in handy.
Isner’s week would begin on Sunday, when she finalized her assignments for Monday, reviewed her upcoming class schedule and prepared meals for the entire week for herself and her husband. She also would fit in church and Sunday School for her daughter. Mondays and Fridays began at 7 or 8 a.m., when she attended classes at Northeast’s West Point extended campus. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays were devoted to clinicals, where she gained hands-on experience at a hospital or other facility. Isner would be awake by 3:30 a.m. on those days and often wouldn’t return home until 3 p.m. Evenings were devoted to chores, helping her daughter with homework and, on Thursdays, taking her daughter to dance.
Isner first attended Northeast in 2008 for one semester.
“I actually had no interest in being a nurse. I didn’t really like what I was doing, my grades were bad and I dropped out. I decided I was just going to work full time and raise my daughter. I would rather make money than waste my time in school.”
But as time passed, Isner had a change of heart.
“I really wanted to do more with my life. As my daughter got older, it became easier for me to start doing classes. So I started looking back into attending Northeast. I decided to take a couple pre-requisite classes, see what I liked and go from there.”
And that was just the beginning. After taking nutrition and medical terminology online, Isner continued to complete pre-requisite classes and was accepted into Northeast’s nursing program on her first attempt.
Isner said the proximity of Northeast’s West Point extended campus was certainly a factor in her success. She cited her IV lab as a prime example of how convenient the West Point extended campus can be for students in the area who work, raise families and have other commitments.
“It was really hard for me to take a day and go to Norfolk to go to the lab. But we actually have supplies here (at West Point) and a (simulated) arm here, so we can practice our lab skills here. So instead of driving to Norfolk, I can just come here and practice it here. The instructors were really great about working with me on that. It’s really helpful to have something so much closer and everyone being really good about working with you so that you can succeed.”
Isner said that now she has graduated with her ADN, she has accepted a position as a registered nurse at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals in Omaha, where she will work with patients with a number of conditions that require rehabilitation, including those who have suffered strokes and traumatic brain injuries. She and her family will continue to reside in Oakland so their daughter can remain at her current school.
During her first semester in Northeast’s nursing program, Isner commuted to the Norfolk campus more often, and she wondered how continuing to make the longer commute into later semesters would have affected her everyday life.
“I probably would have made it work, but I would have spent so much more money on gas. And if the weather was going to be bad, I would stay in a hotel. If you add that expense on top of everything else, it saves me so much money being able to be here at West Point.”
“If I was going to West Point instead of Norfolk, I could leave a little bit later in the mornings, and that little bit just helped.”