Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dream, Believe, Achieve

2015 Future Alumni Essay Contest
Runner Up

TTC Graduate, Crystal Kazmierski

Just over five years ago, I was setting sail on my journey of following my dreams when I decided to return to school to become a nurse. At that time, I was living in Columbia where I was a paralegal at a large law firm, and most importantly, I was enjoying motherhood. My husband and I had just welcomed the newest member of our family, our beautiful daughter, Eveliina.

Being pregnant and having a natural childbirth was an amazing and life-altering experience. I immersed myself in the process — reading books and articles, talking with friends, asking questions, and participating in classes. Throughout my pregnancy and labor I had positive interactions with my nurses and doctors. They empowered me to become an active participant in my health care. I realized that educating a patient is one of the most important ways a health care provider can positively impact their patient. Through education, and not mere instruction, a patient takes control of their journey. My experience and the joy it brought me made me realize my dream — I wanted to be part of that experience with other families. But I did not know how, or if, I could change course at that point in my life.

When my maternity leave ended and I returned to the law firm, I realized that I was no longer inspired by my work. I did not have that personal connection with my clients that I felt with the nurses during my pregnancy. I realized that if I had to spend forty hours a week away from my family, I wanted to be passionate about my work. I knew I wanted to make a change and I knew what I wanted to do, but I was struggling with making the leap. How would my family survive without my income? Did I really want to go back to school when I was nearly thirty years old? How long would it take me to become a nurse? Would I be a good student? The one thing that terrified me more than all of my questions was the fear of regret. I knew it was time to embark on my journey.

Realizing my passion and making my dreams a reality began at Trident Technical College. My uncertainties slowly subsided as my questions were answered. My fears turned to excitement as my path to becoming a nurse was planned out. I worked closely with Trident’s advisers and counselors and the change that I previously thought would be impossible became a workable road map to achieving my goal: becoming a nurse.

Nursing school has been nothing short of an incredible, immeasurably rewarding challenge. The demands have distanced me from friends and family, consumed my time, and on occasion, made me question my decision to return to school. But throughout my experience I have had support and inspiration from Trident. The support came from surprising places. It was an awesome feeling leaving the financial aid office with financial assistance that, if it were not for their help, I would have never known I was entitled to receive. I can say the same for my experiences with many of the other offices that supported me as I progressed on my journey — the bookstore, the registrar, and the testing center — to name a few.

The nursing instructors have been my cheerleaders, mentors, instructors, support system, and friends. They are demanding and the workload is challenging, but a smile or pat on the back when I was successful gave me that extra push when I questioned my ability to finish what I had started. During my clinical rotations, I have learned valuable skills from my instructors by watching, listening, and performing under their guidance. The connection that the nursing instructors established with patients was the same connection that I had as a patient, the same connection I seek with my patients. Eventually, through course work, one-on-one instruction, and practice, I took on the role as a patient educator. The hands on work, the real world nursing with knowledgeable instructors nearby, reminded me why I sacrificed so much to follow my dream.

Earlier this year, I applied for and was selected to work as a student coach in the Nursing Resource Center. Although I was hired to assist other students, I know that I am the recipient of a tremendous gift. I am able to give back in a way that hopefully inspires fellow students who are struggling in their journey to realize their dreams.

In two months I will finish the nursing program at Trident Technical College. I plan on taking and, I can say with confidence, passing the state-licensing exam. I want to work as a labor and delivery nurse, which, in a way, will complete my journey. However, I want to continue my education, to build on the foundation that Trident has provided. Ultimately, I want to work as a certified nurse midwife.

I discovered myself and followed my passion at Trident Technical College. I unlocked my potential and achieved my goals at Trident. I am proud to be Trident student. My success has been a team effort. It would not have been possible without the help of my family and the support of my school. As an adult student, the prospect of returning to school to begin a completely new career was a daunting idea. But with the support of my family and everyone at Trident, my dreams are now my reality. I will continue to encourage others to pursue their dreams by sharing my incredible journey and the imperative role Trident has played in my success.

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