Alumni Spotlight: Marina, MSN, “An Educational Path is Not Always Linear”

Marina Jelen, MSN

Today, we’re sharing Marina Jelen’s story.  Marina is a recent graduate of Aspen University’s MSN Administration and Management program, who overcame her fears and showed that it’s never too late to keep learning. Marina is a mother, an immigrant, and learned English as a second language. Here is her story.


By the time you are reading this, I will have graduated with my Master of Science in Nursing degree with a focus on administration and management. However, my educational journey began years ago in Russia. In Russia, it was customary to continue education right out of high school. This was an idea enforced by many parents and the overriding Russian norms. At the same time, there was a common belief that you could be too old to get your education. I carried these ideas with me when I moved to the United States in 2002. In America, I began the process of transferring my credit hours, taking more classes, and obtaining my associate’s degree in nursing.

After having my daughter in 2005, I stepped back from my education. Going back to school years later was challenging, as I began to doubt my abilities. I feared that I was too old to go back to school and that maybe it was already too late to return to learning. Because English is my second language, I have always doubted whether I could write academic papers or if a higher degree was what I needed. I questioned if I should dedicate my time to school or if I should concentrate on my job and other obligations. However, being a single mother, I wanted to show my daughter that it is possible to achieve your dream despite any obstacles that may stand in your way. I knew I wanted to continue in nursing, but I wanted to push myself to gain new knowledge and move into a position where I could make a difference for my staff and my patients.

I applied for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Aspen University in 2017 and graduated with my BSN degree in 2019. My learning wasn’t complete, and I applied for the Master of Science in Nursing program two years later. At Aspen, I have been able to interact with a community of students of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds. I experienced tremendous support on every level of my educational journey. I no longer believed I was too old, not good enough, or not smart enough. The incredible support system at Aspen University helped me achieve my academic and professional goals, and I am forever grateful.

Despite the negative thoughts that may hold you back, we can all become stronger students and people. I have learned that an educational path is not always linear and that learning does not stop at a certain age. We continue to learn throughout our lives, and when we do, a world of possibility opens. For many of us, our journeys have been filled with obstacles. We have had to make challenging decisions and step away from what is comfortable. We have had to juggle our educational journey with our daily lives, job, family, and kids. Being a 50-year-old single mother and having English as my second language, it has been difficult to stay motivated. However, Aspen University has guided and supported me through each step. I encourage my fellow graduates to remember that this is not the end; rather it’s the beginning of a wonderful journey in our career and lives. I wish everyone entering Aspen University the best of luck in obtaining the degree you have always dreamed of!


Marina Jelen’s journey demonstrates that when you work to overcome negative thoughts, you can achieve great things.


If you are ready to take the next steps in your nursing journey, check out Aspen University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences page.

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