Throughout her childhood, Sandra Tripp had many career ambitions, but years of self-doubt fueled by naysayers stopped her from pursuing them. That was until her sick grandmother encouraged her to follow her nursing dream. After becoming a registered nurse, she decided to take her education even further, and in 2020 she graduated from Aspen University’s RN to BSN completion program at 52—proving it’s always possible to achieve your goals despite what any cynic tells you. Sandra shares her journey below.
I am a first-generation college graduate. My educational journey began in 1986 when I was fresh out of high school and entered college. I had many dreams and aspirations, but my parents were young and not financially sound. Since I wasn’t a straight-A student and didn’t excel in sports, my education fell upon me financially. I wanted to be so many things—a teacher, marine biologist, graphic artist, counselor, and nurse—but I was told that I couldn’t accomplish these aspirations. That I wasn’t smart enough and didn’t have what it takes to follow through to be anything. I allowed the words of others to create self-doubt and fear within me.
Although I did graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1995, I settled on something less than what I dreamt of becoming. These fears would be the roadblocks in my life for many years. But in 2010, my grandmother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bile duct cancer, and just before the diagnosis, I shared with her the idea of going back to school for nursing. My grandmother, being my biggest cheerleader, said, ‘Why not, Sandy? You have always had it in you, and I believe in you.’
So, I decided to go back to school to become a nurse at 43 years old and began my studies that same year. I was studying each weekend while helping with grandma in her last days in hospice care. I graduated with my Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Owens State Community College, and in February of 2017, I passed my NCLEX with 87 questions. However, I discovered that I didn’t want to stop at my ADN. I wanted to teach and help others achieve their educational goals in nursing.
“Never in this life allow anyone or anything to make you feel inept. Look at what you have accomplished right here, right now.”
In my search for a higher educational institution, I was looking for a smaller school that would offer more one-on-ones with each professor, and Aspen University turned out to be just that. The professors took a personal interest in my education. My instructor Sarah Lease was very attentive and always responded timely. When I asked her about giving a reference for the Honor Society, she jumped at the opportunity. My advisor, Dru VanVoorhis, also went above and beyond in helping with everything that I needed.
I also needed a program that allowed me to work at my own pace each week while working full-time. Aspen University once again did not disappoint, and I was able to meet the deadlines each week for assignments. Now here I am, a graduate with my BSN. Aspen University was the stepping stone I needed to accomplish my childhood goals. I’m looking to continue my education with an MSN to teach at the college level. My goal is to help new potential nurses learn the skills to achieve their lifelong goals.
The words of wisdom I would like to bestow upon my fellow alumni and students: Never in this life allow anyone or anything to make you feel inept. Look at what you have accomplished right here, right now. You are in the driver’s seat, and you have an uncharted road ahead of you to make your own. Make this journey your best yet!