"I wanted to take a moment to reach out to the Community Foundation and give my thanks and share my success story. Without the support and generosity of the Community Foundation, I do not know if I would have a success story to share. I have been honored to be the recipient of the Jean Brown Scholarship. Here is a little bit about me.
I graduated with my Associate in Applied Science – Nursing in 1997 at the ripe old age of 19. At that time in my life, the Associate Degree was appropriate for what my career looked like. I started working bedside nursing and loved it. Going back to school for my Bachelor in Nursing (BSN) wasn’t something that I desired to do at that point. It became even less desirable as I started growth in my personal life with marriage in 1999, my first child in 2000, second in 2002, third in 2007, and then that surprise fourth in 2009. After four kids, the thought of going back to school seemed less and less possible both personally and financially. I was never embarrassed to have my Associates and not my Bachelors. I was proud to be a nurse and the care I provided.
In 2010, I began my nursing career with Caterpillar, Inc. It quickly became the place I knew I had found my home. I finally had somewhere that I really wanted to grow and advance. However, I still had these gazillion kids at home so going back to school seemed impossible. I cannot remember the exact time that I heard about the Jean Brown Scholarship and I wish I did so I could go back and thank that person as well. When I heard about it, it got my wheels turning, making me think maybe I really can go back to school without putting my family under extreme financial strain.
Finally, in 2018, I decided to go for it. My oldest child was going to be starting college in 2019 and my competitive nature kicked in that I had a goal to get my Bachelors degree before my kids. I knew it would take me longer than a “traditional” student but I also knew that I needed to take it slowly so that I could at least try to give the appearance of balancing a full time job and my personal life. I started back to school with some pre-requisite evening courses at Illinois Central College in Fall 2018. After my first few courses, I was already feeling blessed to be given the opportunity to reopen my mind. It was definitely a new experience after being out of school for so long. After completing my pre-req courses at ICC, I transferred to Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville (SIUE) for their RN to BSN online program.
Those years were tough. I’m not going to lie. There were many times I missed a kid’s game or performance due to schoolwork. Many times I was inside working on schoolwork instead of doing something else much more enjoyable. There were tears, there were times I wanted to give up, times I just wanted to curse, and many times that I questioned my decision to go back to school. However, quitting was never an option. Not only did I have my family’s support, I had the support of the Community Foundation. There were times I said to myself , “They believed in you enough to provide this scholarship. Show them you were worth it.” Unbeknownst to you, the Community Foundation was a supportive little cheerleader I saw in my court and I thought about my gift often.
I was blessed with the Jean Brown Scholarship in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Four years of continued support.
In December of 2021, I graduated SIUE with my Bachelor of Science, Nursing. I graduated with highest honors, Summa Cum Laude. While the Community Foundation was not there in person as I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, YOU made it happen. Without the financial support from the Community Foundation through the Jean Brown Scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I would have kept that thought of going back to school in the back of my brain and focused on how I was going to put my kids through school. The Community Foundation, helped me achieve something for ME. I have great pride in what I accomplished and the Community Foundation should have great pride in all that you do to help people reach their dream.
Thank you so very much for the support!"