Coretta Hunter had already built her career as a teacher when she decided to go back to school and launch a second act with nursing. Changing careers can be challenging for anyone, especially a single mom juggling life and three kids. But with encouragement from her beloved aunt and the strength she found in her love for her children, she took on this new endeavor with steady strides and determination—working her way through titles LPN, RN, and now BSN as a 2021 Aspen University graduate. A member of the Delta Epsilon Tau International Honors Society, Coretta shares with Aspen how she discovered her calling to become a nurse and her rewarding experience in the RN to BSN program.
My educational journey has varied throughout the years. I started as a Home Health Aide and Certified Nursing Assistant at 15, but then I began teaching and discovered a passion for serving others. After years of being a teacher and starting a family of my own, my aunt, Dr. Marvel Ramsay-Jones (Rest in Peace), convinced me to return to the medical field as a nurse. My aunt was a nurse herself, earning her Ph.D. and owning a home health agency. With words of support from Aunt Marvel, I returned to school as a single mom to start a new career as an LPN (licensed practical nurse) while balancing the needs of a 7-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 1-year old. As tough as it was, I did it.
Years later, I ventured into nursing school again for my ASN degree to become a registered nurse. Still a single mom juggling work and school, the journey was tedious. There were times I wanted to give up, like when I had to be away from my children for a week for clinicals. I couldn’t fathom how I would make it through, but I did. Wanting to do better and be better for my children inspired me to persevere, and my parents were my rock during these hard times. I became an RN in 2015, and then I met my husband the year after nursing school—that’s when the cloud nine effect took place. Instead of furthering my education, my focus was my kids, work, husband, church, and everything else in between life’s busy ups and downs.
Co-workers told me about Aspen University, and I put it in the back of my mind that I would start the RN to BSN program when I was ready. But years passed by. I didn’t think about my BSN until one day I looked at my company signature—Coretta Hunter, RN—and wondered, What would it look like with a BSN title behind it? I absolutely loved the idea and claimed it.
Going back to school seemed like a dream. Nursing school again? With kids that still needed my support, a new marriage, and a new position at work? How would I handle it all? I asked my husband for his thoughts on me going to school for my BSN. I explained that it would mean cutting back on activities I normally did around the house. There would be fewer meals cooked, less chores I could take on, and some very long nights. He said, “Go for it. You can do it. I support you 100 percent.”
Several important people in my life didn’t know I went back to school because I wanted to avoid the constant pressure and questions for when I would finish. I didn’t want the anxiety of feeling rushed, as though I needed to finish by a specific time. But I gave myself goals, doubled up on classes, and my advisor Joe advocated and pushed for me, opening up classes that were timely for me.
Aspen has been a blessing. They helped me pursue my goals by having classes that worked within my busy schedule. Everyone I came in contact with exuded positivity. Whether it was my academic advisor Joe guiding me on classes, Kathy in the bursar’s office helping me with tuition reimbursement policies, or so many others, Aspen’s team was always willing to step in to help. It has been a joy to be affiliated with a university and staff willing to go the extra mile to help where they can. I could not have chosen a better institution to attend, and I spread the word of Aspen to others wherever I go.
I’m currently a Nurse Reviewer for Medicare LOB, and having a BSN degree will open opportunities within the corporation. My plan is to continue with my MSN in Nursing Education once my youngest child graduates, and I look forward to the success for years to come through Aspen University.
My words of wisdom for other students and alumni would be to press forth the mark of the higher calling. Never give up! There will be overwhelming pressure surrounding your day-to-day life, but do not stop until you are where you need to be. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade—oranges make marmalade, grapes make jelly, and apples make a great homemade apple pie. Take the time you need and go at your own pace. You can do whatever it is you set your mind to.