Nursing Major and Transfer Student
Hope Brothers is an inspiration for many reasons but at the University of Evansville, it's that she's a first-time college student going for her dream to become a nurse while in her mid-40's. At a time when some folks are thinking about winding down their careers, Hope is just getting started. At UE she's classified as a nontraditional student because she didn't enroll right after she completed high school. But her age hasn't stopped her from getting connected – in fact, that connection is her secret sauce to having a successful experience.
Her life has been a challenging one. Those challenges would have led most people to a different type of lifestyle, but for Hope, the challenges she faced growing up instilled in her a passion for helping people.
Hope's professional career began in the financial industry where she worked for 16 years. Ultimately, she realized she wanted to be working with patients, giving them the attention and care they deserved. The seed of an idea of becoming a nurse was planted when Hope was caring for her mother during an illness. Hope's own attention to detail and deep understanding about her mother's medication and course of care led to several nurses telling her “You should become a nurse.”
Eventually, she would not be able to ignore the small voice in the back of her mind telling her to go for it. With the enthusiastic support of her husband and son, she dove into life as an undergrad.
“If I can be a part of saving lives and improving patients' quality of life, that's what I want,” she said. “I'll be 50 when I graduate, but that doesn't matter. I know that if I am doing something that fills my spirit, nothing can stand in my way.”
Sense of Belonging
She applied for nursing school at a handful of local institutions, including UE of course. But the only institution that reached out to Hope was UE. “I didn't feel that personal, family-like sense of belonging from any other school I applied to. That helped me realized that I was going to be just as important as any other student coming to the University, even though I was nontraditional.”
College is hard. There's no way around it. Especially as an older student, coming back into the rigor of undergraduate studies can be a big adjustment. But with a determination to finish her degree and become a nurse, Hope has learned how to stay motivated when things get rough.
- Make a friend on campus. When she started feeling lonely early on, Hope said, “I realized I needed to make a friend.” So she reached out to one of the students she sat next to in class, and they went out for coffee. “I was kind of telling her ‘man, I don't really have any friends on campus,' and she said ‘I'm your friend!'” This connection, Hope explains, keeps you connected – to the university, to your work, and to your “why”.
- Change seats. “Seriously,” Hope said. If you're having trouble in a class, move your seat to the front row. “It helps you concentrate and stay focused while your professor is going over more challenging topics.” You might be surprised.
- Be prepared. “I know that sounds pretty simple, but doing your homework and reading is the easiest thing you can do to be ready for class.”
- Schedule your life. From studying to shopping to family time, it can help to have every moment of your day scheduled. It might feel strange to schedule time with your family (and you might not want them to see it), but it's important to insist on a balanced life. A schedule will help with that.
Pursuing a Meaningful Life
For Hope, diving into full-time undergraduate coursework has been a great challenge. She is pursuing a degree in nursing while also taking care of family and earning a paycheck to pay for it all. But for her, it's well worth it to support her passion for caring for those who need it most.
“My goal is to be a psyc nurse because those patients tend to have higher instances of abuse and neglect, and I want to give them care and hope.”