Embracing Challenges. Making Opportunities.
Posted on July 02, 2015
In 2012, Anissa Ellis, armed with a sense of determination and a need for change, decided to take a leap of faith. She quit her job in information technology, her career for 15 years, took a 60 percent pay cut, and became a full-time nurse’s aide at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) – all while working on a Nursing degree at John Tyler Community College. Anissa did not make these decisions lightly. She had long held an interest in medicine, felt a need to give back to her community, and desires to do something more, something different, with her life. It was the death, however, of a friend from lung cancer at the age of 32 and the care her friend received that prompted Anissa to take action. “I knew I wanted to be there for other families, like someone was there for us,” she said.
Anissa wanted a competitive nursing program, so she researched her options. She chose Tyler’s program because of its reputation and high NCLEX pass rates. The work was demanding, but Anissa readily accepted the challenges and opportunities that arose. “John Tyler has had a profound effect on my life,” she said. “Not only have I had rigorous training for my new career path, but I have been able to travel the world. As a member of Phi Theta Kappa [Honor Society], I was selected as a delegate to represent nursing students from the United States and travel to Australia to study universal health care. I also had the opportunity through our Study Abroad program and a John Tyler Foundation scholarship to travel to Greece and study the ancient civilizations there. Both were breathtaking experiences that have provided an opportunity to take a more culturally diverse approach to my studies and career.”
Anissa completed her Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing at the end of the Fall 2014 semester. Since graduating from Tyler, she was promoted to a registered nurse at VCU Medical Center. Anissa says VCU is piloting a program with her in the surgical services/operating room area, which includes rotations in Acute Care Pediatrics, Surgical Trauma ICU and other specialty areas. “So far all of the departments I have interacted with have been very impressed with my performance and have offered me full-time positions,” she says. “They are not only surprised that I am a new graduate, they are also surprised that I graduated from a two-year program and not a four-year program. I credit not only my hard work but the preparation that I received in the John Tyler Nursing Program.”
Although Anissa is immersed in her work, she’s still making plans for her education. She wants to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing through the University of Alabama’s online RN to BSN program.
As she moves forward in her career and in her education, Anissa offers this advice to those who are just starting out at Tyler: “To anyone entering the Nursing Program, be prepared to work. It is not an easy program, and it shouldn't be. We have people's lives in our hands, and you need to be at your best in those situations. Develop a positive support system. Family, friends or find a mentor. There will be days that you doubt yourself, and those positive individuals in your corner are priceless. You will also run into negative people along the way. Identify who they are, and steer clear. Negativity will make things harder than they need to be. It is ok and expected that you will study a lot, but also find time to take care of yourself. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Find a hobby or something that you enjoy, and hold on to it.”
She also encourages everyone – whether interested in nursing or not – to follow their passion. “Because I am doing something that I love not a single day feels like work. I encourage everyone to chase their dreams. It is worth every moment!”
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Heather Busch, Creative Services Manager