MY TESTIMONY: A STORY OF TRIUMPH FROM A FORMER STATISTIC
Sitting in front of this office, marked “Dean of Nursing”, I was nervous, scared, and a bit thrown off. I had only planned on stopping briefly to pick up my assigned graduation tickets on my thirty minute lunch break. As I sat in the chair outside the office, I replayed the last few days of class, trying to remember what I could have done or said wrong. But as usual, my thoughts went left when they should have gone right. I had not allowed my thoughts to take me anywhere close to the reason why I was being asked to speak with the dean. Followed into the office by the dean of education and one of my instructors, I fidgeted with my name badge and with a shaky voice asked what was wrong. She asked me to sit, held out her hand, and much to my surprise congratulated me on graduating at the top of my Licensed Practical Nurse class. And I cried. I cried like a newborn. It was not a pretty sight. It was more like the young lady from the Blair Witch Project. But there are several reasons why, which I am going to share with you now.
Last year in July, I broke my hand. No, scratch that. A client I was taking care of squeezed my hand so hard it fractured my right middle and ring finger. I was in the middle of my second term at Lincoln Technical Institute and this was the absolute last thing I needed to happen. If my hand was broken, I couldn’t continue with classes, as I am right handed and I needed both hands to perform personal care. It was devastating to have to take a leave of absence and I was going to quit school all together. I mean really, how many signs did I need that this was not right for me? My hand was broken, I had lost hours on my job and was now working what could barely be classified as part time. My significant other had forgot that he was a significant member of the bill paying team in our house and stopped paying our rent, causing me to yet again face eviction. And on top of all that, my daughter had picked this time in her education process to completely denounce teachers in general. Between me, her two grandmothers, and her aunts, we were making daily trips to the school to pick her up after her tirades through the hallways. My life was falling apart, and breaking my hand seemed to be the nail in the coffin of my nursing career. I looked up, as I often do, and said “Lord, you know what I am meant to do here. Please guide me.” I curled up on the couch and fell asleep, since there was nothing else I could do, and I waited. He has never kept his plans for me a secret for too long; so I just turned it over, turned over, and closed my eyes.
The next thing I knew, the education coordinator for Lincoln Tech called, telling me that there was an opening in the October class and if I had both the balance of my monthly payments, and a note from my doctor clearing me for clinical, I could join the class. My first thought was, this time; I am not going to let anything stop me. My second thought was wow, HE works fast! I called my mom, who has always been there to support me through everything, and explained the whole situation. There were financial issues, time constraints, and childcare issues; all of which we were able to resolve before October 3, my official re-start date. I walked into class with the biggest smile on my face, just happy to be back on track to achieve my goal of becoming a nurse. Every day I sat there I sucked in as much as I could, every night I stayed up pouring through texts and writing out note after note until I was able to quote parts of the text verbatim. I spent every moment during clinical asking as many questions as I could, and I learned more from the patients than I could ever have learned from a book. But it was not an easy road. My hours were cut drastically so there were many nights where my kids ate and I had to lie and tell them that mommy ate at school. I had to say no so much to my children that they stopped asking for things; a moment in my life that I regret more than I can ever express in words. I had holes in my scrubs that I repaired over and over until the fabric was barely there. We made due with worn through sneakers and haircuts done at home. My son and daughter went without all the fun things like movies and new toys. But, they never ever made me feel bad about it. My daughter let me listen to her heart beats and my son helped me run flash cards before each test. We played made up games and started working out together, which made the days go by quickly and life started to feel normal again. But just like life, when I started to see the light at the end of this very long tunnel, another wrench was thrown in the mix. My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and I watched helplessly as my rock; the one person who to me was invincible and always there when I needed support, was now losing her hair and going through some of the hardest days in her whole life. Each time I tried to quit though, he was there to remind me why I was in school and why I needed to finish this. From a teacher who walked me through the ins and outs of my mother’s treatments, to family and friends who gave gift cards and food to help me and my kids eat, I was bombarded daily with reminders that God watches over and provides for all of his children. I couldn’t fail all of these angels who gave of themselves in order to see me succeed, so I made sure that I did my best every day of class. When I finished nursing school on July 1st, my graduating grade point average was a 3.98 and I finished my last two terms of school with all A’s.
When I look back at the last year of my life, I can say that I truly beat all of the odds. I know that there are so many people who would have quit, and trust me, had I not had the support of everyone around me, I would have. I would have been a statistic, having settled for crappy low paying jobs just to pay bills and not being happy. I could have given up; after all I am a single parent (at least that what some believe about us). But what would I be teaching my children? I tell them daily that they can and will be anything they want to be, how can I not show them that despite obstacles I became what I always wanted to be? We are all charged with molding the thoughts and minds of those we have brought into the world. My mother is a prime example that when life gets so hard that it seems impossible, a strong foundation, even one built on the shoulders of a single mother, can be the exact thing that a child needs (even an adult child). I walked proudly across the graduation stage, graduating not only at the top of my class, but the top of the entire graduating group. And the little voice yelling “That’s my mommy!” was proof positive that I was exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. My little girl saw her mommy dream big and pray to the heavens that everything would work out. And I stood before her, in my white nursing dress, holding award after award, as living proof that my words “You can be anything you want to be” are true.
Tiffany Hunt was married now divorced during that time gave birth to three children, losing her first daughter in 2000. In 2013, she graduated from Lincoln Technical Institute as the valedictorian of their Accelerated Licensed Practical Nursing program, and secured her license in September of the same year. She has since worked as both a Case Manager and an Operations Manager in the home care industry.
Tiffany currently lives with her 12 year old son Xavier and her 7 year old daughter Sierra Lee. She is an avid supporter of Cancer research, having watched her step-father and mother both go through battles with different types of cancers, the former losing his battle in 2007, and the latter surviving her battle in 2012. She is also a huge supporter of Fibromyalgia awareness, having been diagnosed in 2010 with this debilitating yet invisible illness. Her faith in God, coupled with the huge support system she has around her, has allowed her to live out every dream and fulfill every goal she has set out to meet. Her future plans include becoming a Registered Nurse, and surviving the teenage years of both her children.