Alumni Spotlight: Rene, DNP, “The Journey Was Worth Every Late Night”

rene maslow, dnp

Today, we’re sharing Rene’s story.  Rene graduated from Aspen’s RN-MSN program in 2020 and Aspen’s DNP program in 2023.  Rene kept striving to reach her educational and professional goals, despite dealing with illness.  Keep reading to learn more about Rene’s journey through her master’s and doctoral degrees.


“I graduated with my Associate Degree in Registered Nursing (RN) in 1999 and worked as a bedside Telemetry nurse, with a little oncology thrown in on the side, for six years. Then I watched a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) placed in one of my patients by a Clinical Nurse Specialist and instantly knew that was going to be my destiny in nursing. So, after writing many proposals and three years of attempting to find a nurse leader who would sign on, I finally got my wish and the first PICC/Procedure position was created in a Northern California Kaiser Hospital. I held that position for 17 years, quickly becoming an expert in my field, attending annual conferences, becoming President of the Bay Area Vascular Access Network (BAVAN), and obtaining my board certification in vascular access (VABC).

About 10 ten years ago my left leg started giving me trouble, first in the shin with intense neural pain, then up the side, eventually making me use my ultrasound cart as a walker to get from patient to patient. Over 11 spinal injections and a failed foraminotomy in 2019 finally led to a triple fusion with rods extending to my pelvis, a truly life-altering anterior/posterior approach surgery, in January of 2023. While continuing to work, with my leg pain increasing and enduring multiple injections, I decided to enroll in Aspen’s RN-to-Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program and began my journey in October 2017, graduating in July 2020 with my MSN in Nursing Education.

I figured since I had been an adjunct instructor in the local nursing program where I graduated in 1999, I would just transition to becoming a full-time instructor for the rest of my nursing career. Then, on a dare from my RN husband, I entered the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in October 2020, graduating in January 2023.

I realized then that returning to my beloved role as a Vascular Access Nurse was not going to happen as I faced a six-month recovery from my monster surgery. As I recovered at home, I began looking for positions that were not patient care-related and where I could utilize my new degrees and the tools I learned along the way. I was not having much luck, so returned to my vascular access role but continued to search for a new position, finally finding “the one” in July 2023. I was hired July 30th as a Regional Oncology Clinical Trials Research Nurse. This position gave me many awesome benefits, a salary increase, and a flexible schedule. But it also came with a huge learning curve, as I soon found myself back to being a novice after being the expert in my field for over 17 years.

Now, four months into my year-long training, I am just starting to understand the importance and enormity of my role. There is so much to learn, but I am so ready to take it on. Obtaining a graduate and post-graduate degree gave me the confidence to move outside of my safety zone and reach for something bigger. My professors at Aspen never stopped encouraging me and I always felt supported by them and by my fellow students. There was always a great sense of connection between us, despite the digital walls and distance between us.

In October 2023 my husband came with me as I flew to Phoenix for the commencement ceremony. I was able to meet some of my professors and finally hug and spend time with Jacqueline Lagasse, DNP, FNP, RN, my cohort and study partner throughout the DNP program, who flew in from Connecticut. I had been unable to attend commencement when I earned my MSN because of my leg pain, so I was determined this time to be there. It was amazing and I could not stop crying because I had so wished that my Mother could have been there to witness my accomplishments. Overall, the journey was worth every late night and every “sorry” said to my husband and daughter when I could not join them for time together. When my now 20-year-old daughter tells me how proud she is of what I have created for the last chapter of my nursing career, it makes every struggle worth it.”


Rene’s journey shows that we can triumph through struggles and achieve our dreams.  It also demonstrates the support system that students need along the way.  Aspen’s dedicated faculty and advisors are here to support you along your journey!


Find Your Program
Find Your Program
Tell Us About Yourself
Request Your Information

By clicking the Submit button above, I represent that I am 18+ years of age, that I have read and agreed to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy and agree to receive email marketing and phone calls from Aspen University. I understand that my consent is not required to apply for online degree enrollment. To speak with a representative without providing consent, please call 1-800-373-7814.

Thank You for Your Interest

An Enrollment Advisor will contact you shortly to introduce you to Aspen University and help you understand the programs and payment options available.

You can also start the free application right now.