Fifty-one year old Tracey Evans and her 22-year-old daughter Kaitlin Elsey have always been close. When they qualified at the same time for the associate degree in nursing program at Columbus Technical College, that bond became even stronger — but not before being tested. Thursday night at 7:30, the mother and daughter will be crossing the stage at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center accepting their degrees. A combined contingency of about 17 family and loved ones will be on hand to cheer them on. An estimated 650 students qualified for this graduation. Rep. Carolyn Hugley will be the featured speaker.
Getting to this point was a challenge for Tracey. She tried four times to get accepted into the nursing program and when she got the nod from Columbus Technical College that she would be part of the class scheduled to graduate in December of 2013, a friend of their family called it fate. Her daughter was also accepted. In fact, the family friend was also part of Tracey and Kaitlin’s class. It’s a good thing because she had to play the role of mediator fairly often.
“She told me I just have to throw away my mommy card and just be another student,” Evans said. “That was really tough, especially when you see your child struggling.”
Evans has experience as a surgical technologist and tried the four-year university route but said not only did she learn more at the Columbus Technical College program but she feels completely prepared to enter the healthcare field.
“In clinicals we would work alongside Columbus Tech graduates. They always were spot-on and I knew that’s what I wanted to be,” she said.
Some feel that a technical college education doesn’t measure up. Kaitlin Elsey says that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“In our major classes, we go to the same amount of semesters (4) as the four-year students,” Elsey said. “But we have a lot more hands-on experience and are much better prepared. It’s unbelievably challenging but we loved it.”
The stress of making the grade and Tracey having to set aside her mommy card reared its head earlier this week. Kaitlin had to take her graduation/end of program exam for the second time. If she didn’t pass, she’d have one more chance in January but would not have been able to walk at graduation. Not only did she pass, she scored a 99 percent! The amount of support from her co-horts in the program and from her mom was overwhelming.
“There are 38 of us that go through this together,” Kaitlin explained. “We are always by each other and have become really close. When I was taking my exam with some classmates, I found out about ten of our fellow students drove up to school to wait for us to finish and be there with support.”
Not only was she in nursing school but Kaitlin is also planning her March wedding – another full time job. Speaking of jobs, she has already interviewed with the Columbus Regional Healthcare system and has high hopes for working in the labor and delivery area. Mom Tracey says she’d like to go into either the Operating or Emergency Room environment.