Nightingale College’s learner body includes individuals from all walks of life, with different stories and backgrounds. From refugees to stay-at-home-moms, our learners, no matter what differences and experiences they bring to their cohort and the College, all have a similar passion–caring for others by becoming a nurse. The Learner Spotlight series features a learner who has overcome obstacles, experienced extenuating circumstances, followed a passion, or faced their fears to become a nurse. This edition of the Learner Spotlight shares the story of Jerica LeFevre, a St. George DDC learner who is determined to provide a better life for her and her children, no matter what life may throw at her.
Jerica LeFevre was only in her first semester of nursing school when she found out she was expecting her second child. Fueled by memories of a tough childhood and committed to finishing nursing school on time, LeFevre refused to drop out or take a leave of absence for her pregnancy and delivery. And although it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done, she’s excited to be finishing nursing school and graduating with the January 2019 cohort.
LeFevre has had a very trying journey through nursing school. Having a baby in the middle of nursing school has not been a walk in the park, as you can probably imagine! But LeFevre said she believes that sticking with nursing school all the way through was worth it.
“If I had to do it over I would still do it,” she said. “It wasn’t the easiest thing…but I think at the end of it, it’s going to be worth it.”
LeFevre had worked as a CNA for seven years before starting nursing school, and it was that position that led her to fall in love with the nursing profession. A sudden divorce sparked her interest in pursuing her RN. After she realized she needed a stable career to provide for herself and her 3-year-old, she kicked herself into gear, searching for a program with no waitlist that would admit her immediately and allow her to become a nurse quickly. She chose Nightingale College, and we’re so glad she did.
Caring for her son was at the forefront of her mind as LeFevre started nursing school at Nightingale College. She wanted to ensure that the life of her son would not reflect her own troubled childhood. “My mom was heavily into drugs, and my siblings and I were separated at a young age because of it. I ended up growing up with my Grandma,” said LeFevre. “Seeing how my mom has struggled with being a low-income single mom, struggling with finances and drug addiction, I wanted as far away from that life as possible.”
Nursing school is one of LeFevre’s ways of doing that, but only one semester in to Nightingale’s ADN Program, LeFevre found out she was expecting. Now, on top of being a full-time mom to a busy five year old, LeFevre had to make arrangements for her little girl to be brought into the world. “I already promised myself that I wasn’t going to stop no matter what happened,” she said.
Although she was committed to finishing, that didn’t stop her from worrying how the situation would pan out. “I was a little freaked out about how it was going to happen, especially the second semester when she was due,” she said.
Immediately, LeFevre started planning. Her plan was to have the baby on a Friday, and then go back to school the next Tuesday, only 11 days later. LeFevre planned on having a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC), making the recovery time shorter and allowing her to return to school and work assignments as soon as possible. With this schedule, she would only need to be absent from school for one week, and her instructors understood she was delivering, so they approved the absences.
But unfortunately, when the time came, things didn’t exactly go as planned for the birth of her little girl; LeFevre ended up having a repeat c-section. The recovery time for a c-section is much longer than a vaginal birth, with the recommended rest time being up to six weeks. But after only 11 days, LeFevre had to be back on her feet at work and school, and it was not easy for her.
To make it worse, LeFevre had to drive from her home in Las Vegas to her experiential learning sites in St. George. “That was, I think, the worst part on me because I would get home and my stomach would be sore from driving, and trying to stabilize my body with my abdominal muscles,” she said.
Why did she go through all this pain? She could have taken a leave of absence. She could have dropped out or given up. But she relentlessly pushed towards graduation. “I was worried that if I took any time off that I would just continue to take time off,” she said. “Thinking about how hard I’ve struggled, not even just my adult life, but how I struggled living as a child–not having a good income or a good life–I wanted better, looking towards the future.”
During the hard times, LeFevre would think about how far she had already come and how many people she was proving wrong just being at college, and that encouraged her to keep going.
LeFevre had already been enrolled in another college and was completing pre-reqs one at a time, but when life threw a wrench in her plans, she needed to become a nurse fast. The school she was previously attending told her she would be waitlisted for the start of the nursing program. She is now ahead of the game due to her choice to go to Nightingale College. “I started a semester earlier, and because of it being accelerated I’m going to finish a whole year sooner,” she said.
Now that she’s finishing and ready to graduate as a nurse, LeFevre looks forward to providing a healthy, stable life for her children. She looks forward to taking them to Disneyland and not having to budget so tightly for food, clothes, and toys.
She explained how even her five-year-old son is excited for her to graduate, because he knows that their life will be improved. She related how once, when they were driving, her son noticed a jungle gym in someone’s backyard and said he wanted one. After LeFevre explained they didn’t have space as they lived in an apartment, LeFevre related that her 5-year-old son said “I know, but soon you’re going to be done with school and things are going to be better.”
LeFevre will graduate in the Winter 2019 graduating cohort on January 4, 2019, as a nurse. She wanted to express her thanks to her Grandma and to her friends that helped support her through the hard times. “The support I get from my friends and my little tiny family is what keeps me going,” she said.
We hope that LeFevre has felt the support of the faculty and staff at Nightingale College, because her story of rising up, thinking for the future, and perseverance when others would have given up has inspired us, more than we can say.