ATHENS, Ohio -- "I always wanted to be nurse, but as a single parent who also was a high school dropout, I didn't think it was possible," said Mary Delaney who graduated with a nursing degree from Ohio University Zanesville Campus.
Her dream became a reality when, at her husband's encouragement, she went back to school and enrolled in the nursing program at Zanesville.
The first weeks were overwhelming and she soon found herself sobbing in Linda Hunt's office. Hunt, the assistant director of nursing, told her to, "get a grip ... you can do this." So, Delaney took her advice and continued attending classes, but she couldn't stop sobbing out of frustration. One day, while seeking refuge in the bushes near Elson Hall, to hide her tears, Katherine Mitzel, director of the Learning Advancement Center, heard Delaney and pulled her from the shrubbery to calm her down.
"I was horrified," Delaney said. "But I'd been out of school for more than 20 years and didn't know how to study. It was so overwhelming."
With Mitzel's help, and others in the Learning Advancement Center, Delaney brushed up on her study habits, overcame her frustration and went on to become president of her class. She also won a collegiate nursing award and is listed in the 2002-2003 "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges."
Since completing her nursing degree, Delaney has been working as an R.N. at Mt. Carmel East, part of the Genesis Healthcare System. "It's everything I thought it would be," she said. "I have time to talk with my patients and to hold their hand. Our nurse to patient ratio is 1:6, which gives us time to do more than dispense pills."
Delaney is the first member of her family to graduate from college. "Going back to school was a wonderful experience for me," she said. "I managed to accomplish things that I never thought were possible. I hope that what I've accomplished will influence my own children."