Editor’s note – This article is one of a series of feature stories from Southern State Community College highlighting alumni and the specific degree programs they completed.
When Emily Jackson graduated high school in 2003, she wanted to pursue a career in nursing, but she did not want to go too far from home.
Since her mother worked at the local community college, Jackson said attending classes there was a no-brainer.
“I just felt like there was a sense of community that I wasn’t sure I would get somewhere else,” Jackson said.
Jackson is still close to home, working full-time as a nurse practitioner at Adena Hillsboro, and she said those in a similar situation would do well to start at Southern State Community College.
Jackson said from a young age she knew she wanted to take care of people, and that was what led her to eventually pursue an associate’s degree in nursing from Southern State.
“I come from a very nurturing family and lots of people around me were ill,” she said. “Part of me just wanted to nurture people and be able to take care of my family. That was the key factor for me wanting to become a nurse.”
Jackson said one of her biggest challenges in school was academics.
“Even as a child, it was hard for me to succeed in school without having to study, study, study,” she said. “I think Southern State took some of the burden… I had family support and all these people around me. I felt like if I ever had a concern, I had somebody to link onto and I kind of got over my academic fear.”
Jackson said Southern State’s small class sizes gave her space to ask questions without feeling judged by a hundred or more students.
“Just knowing a lot of the people I went to school with was important,” she said. “When I got in the nursing program, I had other people from other counties, but with so many classes together, we felt like a family.”
Jackson said Southern State was also a good choice for her financially due to low tuition rates.
“It’s very affordable,” she said, adding that taking classes at the community college then transferring credits to larger schools for further education is a financial boon. Jackson went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Jackson, who also fills in as an instructor in the Southern State nursing department, said she’s “proud of our program.”
“It’s continuing to thrive and it’s just a blessing to see it continue so well,” she said.
Julie Krebs, who oversees the nursing program, said the associate’s degree in nursing prepares students to take the National Council Licensure Examination to become a registered nurse. Alternatively, students can enroll in the practical nursing program to attain practical nursing licensure in one year.
Krebs said many students go on to complete their bachelor’s degree in the following two years after graduation from Southern State, adding that there are “many opportunities” for RN students in surrounding hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Opportunities for practical nursing graduates abound in long-term care facilities and acute care offices at hospitals and doctor’s practices.
Krebs said starting pay for some nursing degree graduates is $28 per hour, while PN graduates can earn at least $19 per hour.
According to Krebs, students in both tracks gain practical experience from skill labs and simulation labs where they work on mannequins and live patients. Krebs said these skills prepare would-be nurses and health care providers for the field, where they need to be “ready to provide safe and efficient care… from learning how to apply knowledge and skill.” Krebs, a longtime nurse herself, said she is passionate about the profession because it “improves lives.”
Jackson said she feels the same, adding that dreams, whether big or small, are worth following.
“Sometimes they feel like they’re far-fetched and hard to hold on to, but we have so many resources on a local level that can help you reach what you want,” she said.
For more information about Southern State’s Nursing Program, visit www.sscc.edu, email Sue Leach at [email protected], or call 800.628.7722, Ext. 2640.
David Wright is a local journalist and freelance writer.