Ozarka College - Mammoth Spring puts mother of four on track to realizing nursing dream
Published on December 13, 2013
For Brandi Miller of Thayer, getting her education has always been a priority. The mother of four started college in her hometown of Mountain View, Mo., but quit after two semesters after finding out she was pregnant with her first child.
"I was working at the nursing home and loved my job there, but I got pregnant and dropped out," she said. "I decided to wait until my children were older to start back."
Years later and a move to Thayer, she found herself working toward a management position in a local fast-food restaurant. She said her goal since 2005 has been to become a nurse, and all it took was one Ozarka College - Mammoth Spring employee to encourage her during the lunch hour.
"I started right away," Miller said. "I started in 2011 and completed my CNA [certified nursing assistant]. In the spring, I took all of my pre-reqs for LPN [licensed practical nursing] and completed them. I then got into the Ash Flat LPN program in fall 2012."
At the time, Mammoth Spring did not offer the LPN program, so after Miller completed her prerequisite work, she started making the drive to Ash Flat. Ozarka College - Mammoth Spring will welcome its first cohort of practical nursing students this spring.
Even though she was a good student with good grades, she still didn't expect to make it into the highly competitive program. The Ozarka College nursing program only accept a maximum of 20 students into each cohort.
"I was floored when I got the letter," she said.
The practical nursing programs are known for their rigor, and having four children at home made the struggles of being a non-traditional student even more difficult for Miller. She leaned on family, in particular her sister-in-law, to assist her in caring for her kids. She also said her husband, Jason, has been very supportive throughout her entire journey.
"I struggled with not always being with my kids," she said. "But I knew I was preparing myself for a better job."
She obtained her nursing license in September 2013 and has started working on her prerequisites for the registered nursing program at Ozarka College. Her goal is to begin the program in January 2015.
"My goal is to be a RN by the time I'm 35," she said. "I'm going for it."
She attributes her success to the faculty and staff at Ozarka College, specifically Cheryl Ekenes, LPN instructor at the Ash Flat campus.
"I love Ms. Cheryl," she said. "She's the best. I recommend Ozarka College to everybody. I've even been encouraging my sister-in-law to start college here."
"Brandi is a great example of the kind of nurses I strive to grow in the LPN program," said Ekenes. "Like many of the students, Brandi had to balance a full home life with my demanding program and there were many times she hung in there when other students might have pulled out. She has the characteristics of compassion and competency that I believe all nurses should possess."
Miller also encourages anyone who is considering college to jump in.
"It's never too late to go for your goals or dreams," she said.
Miller is looking forward to completing her education and is happy with the example she's able to set for her kids, Allysyn, 14, Madisyn, 12, Trenton, 10, and Gage, 7.
"I'm excited that I get to show my kids how important education is to me," she said. "I'm happy I can show them they can do it, too."
For more information on Ozarka College or to enroll for the spring semester, visit any location in Melbourne, Ash Flat, Mountain View or Mammoth Spring, visit www.ozarka.edu, or call 800-825-4335.