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Military, Navy, nursing, Parents, self care

Meet Pam: Veteran, Nurse, Parent, Student, Scholar!

Pam Schreurs White Coat Ceremony
Pam at her White Coat Ceremony, four months after writing this blog post – Congratulations Pam!

Pamela Schreurs

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

https://portfolium.com/PamelaSchreurs

https://www.instagram.com/pamela_schreurs_nuscholar/

Greetings! My name is Pamela and I am a mother to two wonderful children, as well as a nursing student at National University.  I am also a US Navy veteran, and my husband is currently active duty.  It can be a struggle being a full-time mom and nursing student (especially if a spouse is deployed!), but I have felt very supported since starting my journey at NU.  In my downtime I enjoy spending time with my kids, volunteering with Girl Scouts San Diego, and taking time for myself.  One big take away from nursing school has been that self-care helps make you a more present nurse and parent.  I feel blessed to have had fabulous instructors who incorporate integrative therapy into the classroom, and I am excited to weave meditation, aromatherapy, and guided breathing into not only my nursing practice, but also my home life.

In July of 2018, I was accepted into the NU Scholars Program.  Through NU Scholars, I have been able to support peers’ community service projects, and am planning my own project hosting wellness workshops for elementary-aged girls.  I will also be hosting SafeZones LGBTQ literacy training for NU staff, faculty, and students to help promote a safe and welcoming environment for all who attend NU.

The NU Scholars Program has a strong emphasis on goal-setting, and I have learned a lot about how to set and structure concrete short- and long-term goals. My short-term educational goal for this year is to fully commit myself to the last two weeks of my psychosocial nursing rotation.  This is perhaps the most important rotation in terms of therapeutic communication and empathy, and I want to absorb everything I can before beginning my next rotation.  My long-term goal is to graduate with an excellent GPA in July – nursing school is tough, but I pride myself on putting in the work I need to maintain my GPA.  I cannot wait to have my kids help me put on my white coat in a few months, it is going to be one of the best feelings in the world!  After achieving this first long-term goal, my next long-term goal is to continue my education at a master’s level, focusing on pediatric mental health.

adult learner, Graduate Student, Military, Navy, Parents, Study Abroad

Studying Abroad as a Parent

Brent Harris headshot

Brent Harris

https://portfolium.com/baharris123

Creative Writing MFA

29 Palms Region

“Freeeedddooooommm!”

Shout that in your best Braveheart voice, for that’s the euphoria I felt as I stepped onto the curb, kissed the wife and kids goodbye, and sauntered into the Palm Springs departure terminal.

In January, my Navy wife went away on deployment – for seven months – leaving me at home with two kids, a Master’s program, community volunteer projects, and a perpetually empty cup of coffee. Those months were challenging. My daughter had ballet twice a week and a residency in Anaheim, my son had Toddler Tumbling and was not yet in school. I was teaching on Tuesdays, in between two back-to-back scripts for school.

A break loomed.

The NU Scholar’s program offered a study abroad opportunity to Tijuana. A weekend away from the kids, a break when there was none, to go down South of the Border? Sign me up! I dutifully did the repeat photography assignments, finding pictures of the past to compare with pictures from today. I was all set. And then my son got pink-eye.

I couldn’t go.

The joys of parenthood.

Flash forward several months, and I was afforded an opportunity to visit Vancouver to study abroad. And I’m so very glad I did. Vancouver is a beautiful place with beautiful people. It’s not an old city, but it is rich with culture and vibrant nature. Had I gone to the city by myself, as a tourist, I would have failed to see the splendor beyond the tourist traps. Going as part of the NU study abroad program, travelling with others, allowed me to see parts of the city most would have passed. An amazing coastline, foggy bridges, strange statues, a shower of autumn-red maple leaves, and buildings with a history all their own. The food was great, the people better, and at the end of each day, our phone cameras were full, and our feet were worn.

While there, my first feelings of Freedom! slipped away as the greatness of the experience enveloped me. It was no longer a trip to escape, but the forging of a new friendship. Vancouver will be with me forever.

Clubs, Education, Graduate Student, self care

Hard Work: Becoming a Teacher

Bethany Rickman headshot

By Bethany Rickman, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)

Master of Education with Single Subject Credential, English – Fresno

If someone would have told me, 8 months ago, that becoming a teacher while earning my Credential and masters would be the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life, I might not have totally believed them. You see, I’ve always considered myself to be a hard worker, and I’ve been able to accomplish most goals that I’ve put my mind to with relative ease. So, I assumed that this goal would be no different.  

But I was wrong. 

Or, rather, I was mentally unprepared.  

The truth is, I have never worked so hard or had to balance so many responsibilities, objectives, and, quite frankly, emotions, ever before.  

Now, this is not to say that I regret setting out to accomplish the goal of becoming a teaching intern and earn a Credential and master’s degree. It has been the most rewarding 8 months of my life. But it has also been the most stressful.  

Although I was unaware of the extent of the hard work around the corner, I was still able to draw on my past hard-working and goal-achieving experience, and combine that with the incredible support and resources I have received at National University.  

So, if there is anyone out there who is about to embark on a journey similar to mine, allow me to be the person who tells you that you are about to work the hardest you ever have in your life. But this warning is not meant to be foreboding, and it happens to come with some helpful tips: 

  1. Use the University Resources- National has an incredible library, writing center, and more! I have absolutely used the writing center on several occasions to help me finalize a paper or perfect my APA formatting. If you’re struggling to complete, perfect, or even understand your coursework, use these resources!  
  1. Create a calendar- You’re going to have so many assignments, observations, assessments, adjunct duties (or whatever the equivalent is for non-teachers) and they’re all going to happen on the same day! Ok, maybe not literally, but it will definitely feel like it. Having some sort of calendar of events will help you keep track because, trust me, you won’t be able to keep it all straight in your head. I’ve tried. And failed. Not only will a calendar help you remember important dates, but it will also help you prioritize and pace your workload.  
  1. Reach out to like-minded colleagues I have been so fortunate to meet dozens and dozens of incredible and inspirational colleagues in my time at National. Whenever I have a question about an assignment or need someone to peer-review my Cal TPAs, I have several people that I can turn to and trust to support me in reaching my goals.  
  1. Join a Club- Now, I know it sounds crazy to add one more thing to your plate when you’re already working this hard. But joining a club has not only widened my peer circle, but it has made me feel like I am part of the bigger picture here at National. Sometimes, being bogged down in work and coursework can feel isolating. You’re so hyper focused on your own goals that you don’t stop to realize what an amazing institution you’re a part of, and the role you can play in giving back. Since joining a club, I not only have an outlet to help relieve the stress of working hard, but I have also met more incredible colleagues and staff who also play a role in supporting me in my personal goals.  
  1. Make time for self-care- If there’s one last thing I can leave you with, it’s a friendly reminder that you are a human, not a machine. You need to stop and take a breath every once in a while. In fact, schedule it on that calendar that you just created. Whatever helps you decompress and re-energize so you’re ready to tackle your next goal, do it! You NEED it!  

Now get to work!  

 

Education, Graduate Student

I am Supported as an NU Scholar

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By Alexandra Wigmore, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)

Master of Arts, Education with Single Subject Credential in Health Science – Los Angeles

https://portfolium.com/AlexandraWigmo 

The NU Scholar’s Program has changed my life in the best way possible. When I started as a National University graduate student to earn my Master’s degree in Education with a Single-Subject credential in Health Science, I knew that I was taking a leap of faith going back to school after so many years. I was nervous, but felt a pull to earn this degree. I had been through different career paths in my life, but nothing has made me feel as whole as helping young people through service, compassion, and education. I knew I needed to continue my life in a field where I could serve and help change the lives of others.

I had only been enrolled in my program for a few months when I received a life-changing email inviting me to apply for the NU Scholar’s Program. At first, it seemed too good to be true, and I researched this program and called many different people to make sure I was really understanding what it offered. I saw so many opportunities that this program could offer me—as well as ways that I could contribute to this program—and I worked hard to prepare for the application and interview process.

I still feel lucky and beyond grateful to have earned a spot in the July 2018 Cohort. While I knew this program was special, nothing could have prepared me for just how meaningful it has been and continues to be. This program offers a pathway to be your best self, and the support, encouragement, and drive I feel from being in this program are unlike anything else I’ve experienced. We are encouraged to form connections with fellow scholars, administration, and staff, and receive the warmest and most supportive feedback. I am encouraged to pursue my dreams and I never feel that something is too far out of reach. I have met inspiring people who have added to my knowledge, passion, and insight into how to change the world for the better.

One key aspect of the NU Scholars Program is creating a Community-Based Leadership Project. While I was intimated by this at first, now am just inspired, especially as I learn how I am not alone in this pursuit. The NU Scholar’s Program has provided me with networking tools, leadership and editing skills, more informed opinions, positive insight, and constructive thoughts on how to take my ideas from inception to execution. The connections I continue to make through this program have convinced me that we can all achieve what we set our minds to.

The NU Scholar’s Program is a chain reaction of hope, drive, accomplishments, positive influences, and hard work. As an NU Scholar, I have so many people I trust whom I can turn to for extra support and advice. I am provided with trainings, readings, community service projects, and advice to grow as a person, leader, student, and scholar. The NU Scholar’s Program has been my motivating factor through my time at National University. The support that this program offers me keeps me going as I continue to work my hardest and to strive to be the best version of myself. I have always had a passion for helping others, and the NU Scholar’s Program has given me unique opportunities to make my dreams a reality. I have realized, through this program, that no dream or idea is too big, and that with the right support, anything is possible.

Parents

Making Time for School

nicole alexander

By Nicole Alexander, NU Scholar (April 2018 Cohort)
Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology
https://portfolium.com/nicolealexande4

Most of us here at National are attempting the impossible, the school-work-family juggle. But I assure you, it’s possible. Find your motivation and really get to know yourself, and you can crush it. My motivation is my two daughters. I want to raise strong, fearless, hard-working women and the best way I can think of is to practice what I preach. Find what keeps you going, because when you’re writing a report at 1 am and you have to get up for work at five, you’re going to need it. Once you are good and fired up, get to know yourself. Here are some things I’ve discovered about myself: I can’t study at Starbucks because I get too distracted by people-watching, my brain stops functioning at 11 pm, I do my best work with a side of sushi, and studying in bed = naptime. Once motivation and self-awareness are ironed out, you can focus on figuring how to override the laws of the space-time continuum and manage to get it all done. If physics isn’t your thing, here are a few tips to salvage some time for coursework without abandoning your family and your sanity:

1. #to-do-to-done  

This may come as a bit of a shock, but not everyone uses a planner… I know, it’s crazy. I can barely brush my teeth without my planner. Not only does it keep me from forgetting important dates, it houses my bevy of to-do lists. Yes, lists. I make daily and weekly goals that fit perfectly into their corresponding days. I also find it helpful to make a separate work list, school list, and home list. OK, maybe I’m the crazy one, but it’s easier to accomplish a few things per day than stare at one formidable, mile-long list. Many prefer having it all in their phone—I’ve tried it, it’s not for me. I do however like the “Stickies” program on my laptop for my to-do lists, if you’re the techy-type.

2. #solvesmallproblems 

This trick is definitely my favorite. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t accomplish any significant progress in my school work in those little intervals while on my lunchbreak, or waiting at the DMV, or while helping my kids with homework. I can, however, schedule that dentist appointment, or pay my phone bill, or drop that bag off at Salvation Army that’s been in my trunk for a month. Solving small problems throughout the day will clear your mind, your to-do list, your car, and your schedule for more meaningful chunks of study time later. Added bonus: the tiny rushes of adrenaline from accomplishing tasks will build momentum for that report that’s waiting for you to write it.

3. #sorrynotsorry 

Caution, this one can become addicting. Say no. Sounds simple? It’s not. This one is H-A-R-D but worth it and quite liberating. I enjoy painting, and baking, and creating. So, when someone appreciates my talents and asks me to help them paint their living room or bake my (amazing) cookies for a party, I struggle to say no. But there are only so many hours in a day, and it’s OK to put your priorities first. You have decided to accomplish the amazing feat of going to college, put some other stuff on the back burner, and go with the store-bought cookies.

4. #adultingishard 

Having fun is important in maintaining mental health. Definitely make time for guilt-free frivolity but be sure to get the work done first. How much fun can you really have with that deadline looming over you while you’re trying to bowl a perfect game?

5. #igetbywithalittlehelp 

If you are a college student with no job and no kids, congratulations, please go enjoy a nap on my behalf. If you’re like me, you have kids and they are adorable –but– physically, literally, metaphorically, emotionally and mentally preventing you from getting any work done. TGFG – Thank God For Grandma. Chances are, she’s super proud of you for going to college, and maybe willing to take the children away for an afternoon so you can accomplish something other than snack detail??

6. #childswap 

No grandma? Another awesome way to get some child-free time is the neighbor swap. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor with kids similar in age to mine, and we would swap kids. I would take all the kids for two hours, then she would take them for two hours. When you already have one or two of your own, what’s two more? Playdates keep the kids entertained, and you get work time without putting anyone out or paying for a sitter! Swapping is also a good alternative for when you’re contemplating getting rid of your kids all-together. (JOKING…mostly)

7. #theresanappforthat 

Utilize resources. I know, everybody says that, but actually do it. I once had a gal from the writing center sit on the phone with me for over an hour while I re-wrote a paper. Need a resume? Well, Chris in the career center can tell you that yours is missing an objective, has too many bullet points, and your name is spelled wrong. Not only do these resources offer priceless feedback, but having a scheduled appointment provides accountability and is one more step in getting those items crossed off the aforementioned to-do lists.

8. #strikewhiletheironshot  

You won’t like this one, sorry. Usually the last thing I want to do after five hours in class is open that computer back up, but when the information is fresh, the work is easier and faster. And what a great feeling to have something done long before it’s due.

9. #dropitlikeitshot 

You will like this one, you’re welcome. When I’ve been wrestling over a single paragraph for the better part of an hour accomplishing virtually nothing, I give myself permission to close my computer and walk away. Even though it still needs to get done, I can make better use of my time and re-visit when I’ve given myself a brain break.

 

 

nursing, Online

Taking online classes

By Tera Voss, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Bachelor of Science, Nursing
https://portfolium.com/TeraVoss

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Ah, the joys of modern technology. How amazing is it that we can get an education at home? If you’re like me, your life is busy. You may have chosen to go to college in the not-so-traditional way, and now you have kids, work, and a house to maintain. Or perhaps you’re fresh out of high school, and an online class is a whole new world for you. I’m here to tell you the major benefits of online classes, as well as tips for being just as successful as you would be on campus.

agenda-appointment-business-1020323.jpg1. Freedom to schedule your days as you please.
There’s something to be said for attending class in the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas. Seriously, I consider this a very valuable gift. If you’re a morning person, you can get your schoolwork done in the morning. If you’re a night owl, you can go about your day, and attend to your classwork at night. This is the beauty of online classes. You have the freedom to decide when you “go to class.” But be cautious: self-discipline is the key to success in managing your workload from home. Choose the best time for you and commit to it.

Tip for Success: Get yourself a planner (or Google Calendar if you prefer paperless). Go through your syllabus as soon as it is available to you, and write down all of your deadlines for assignments. Always plan ahead, and work ahead when you can!
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2. More time spent at home with family.
This is my personal favorite factor of online classes. I am a single mom to a toddler. Not only do I need eyes on her at all times (because she’s really into exploring everything right now), but the time I spend with her is valuable, and I can never get it back. Even if you’re not a parent, work-life balance is so important. Online classes allow you to be home, be present, and still accomplish your goals.

Tip for Success: Make sure your family understands that you need to set aside uninterrupted time for school, and work with them to find out what time is best to accomplish this (for me, I work when my daughter sleeps). Having everyone be on the same page makes for a much smoother and more productive day.

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3. No commuting. Ever.
Who doesn’t love to save on gas? Who doesn’t love attending their desired school while living in another state? Who doesn’t love traveling!? This is such a cool thing about technology. We can learn and work towards a degree, and the classmates who participate and interact with each other can be anywhere in the world, so long as they have internet and computer access. This is especially beneficial for are active duty military, military families, or anyone who has to travel often.

Tip for Success: If youre on-the-go, try uploading your school schedule to an app, and make sure you can access email and other important class information from your phone.

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The most important thing to remember about online classes, and college classes in general, is that the level of success you achieve is entirely up to you, and the effort you put inMy hope is that these tips will guide you in a positive direction, and you will feel confident in forging the path of online class success. 

adult learner, nursing, Parents

Returning to school after a hiatus

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By Deborah Nabubwaya Chambers, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Master’s in Public Healthcare Administration

I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and did my undergraduate program in Psychology at Daystar University. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2007, I wanted to continue with my education, but unfortunately, due to life events and other family responsibilities, I could not return to school as soon as I had planned.

After relocating to the United States in 2011, I finally enrolled in some prerequisites to complete courses that would make it possible for me to pursue a nursing degree. One of those classes was an epidemiology class, and I instantly had an epiphany that public health was exactly what I wanted to pursue. I had finally found a field that connected all of my interests in nursing, healthcare in general, and community development. My desire to help others, work in healthcare, and support underserved communities would still be supported by pursuing public health. I searched for graduate programs that I could pursue online while I continued working night shifts at a hospital in West Texas.

A little over 8 years later, I was back in school as an adult learner. I started my first class just before my family and I relocated to Illinois for work. Subsequently, I decided to be a stay-at-home mother and pursue my graduate degree in public health.

Returning to school in 2015 after a hiatus was certainly not an easy decision. It meant giving up a lot of free time and balancing everything to meet my educational goals. I did my assignments whenever I got a chance, at odd hours like during my children’s nap times and after they went to bed at night. No matter how busy I was, I made sure that I did school work every day so that I would not fall behind. Pursuing an accelerated program meant giving it my all right from the beginning, and I took classes almost every month for two years. My oldest child knows how to do a good impression of me using the computer to scale the mountains of assignments and research papers. One of my proudest moments of being an adult learner was taking my entire family to my graduation in San Diego.

Throughout my program, my family kept cheering me on, and gave me wings to fly. My oldest son tells me daily that he is so proud of me and that he wants to be like me. He says he wants to go to school and type on the computer like mama and help sick people. I know that I am positively impacting my family members’ lives, as well as the lives of many others in my community who will benefit from the global and community health research that I am actively participating in. This is all thanks to the knowledge and opportunities that I have received while attending school at National University.

After graduating in 2017, I still desired to advance my career and learn more, returning to school to pursue National University’s healthcare administration program. Even though I have been successful in an accelerated program before, I continue learning every day about how to balance my work, family, and school responsibilities. It has not always been easy but every challenge has made it a growth experience that is nothing short of marvelous. Who knew I would absolutely enjoy school this much?

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