Student Spotlight: Dyslexia Can’t Stop This DNP Candidate

Aspen University DNP student Simone Kessler, RN, BSc, BSN, MSN, began her nursing journey when she was 13. The England native was introduced to the field through vocational and pre-nursing courses that she took throughout her teens. She loved biology, and nursing felt like a natural fit for her.

Simone first day of nursing school“We learned how to bandage, take blood pressures, and learned how to fix broken bones,” says Simone. Learning these basics prepared her for nursing school as an adult. But it was also her dyslexia diagnosis that pushed her to succeed in academics.

“It wasn’t until I was in high school that they started testing for dyslexia. Because up until that point, you were just were labeled as slow,” says Simone, explaining her challenges in school. “It made me stronger and more determined to prove people wrong.”

“You think to yourself, ‘Oh, I’m not good enough’ or, ‘Who am I to go apply for something like that?’”

With decades of nursing experience to her name, Simone has worked at the Wayne UNC Health Care hospital in North Carolina for the past 20 years and is currently Manager of Surgical Procurement and Clinic Value Materials Management. Even though she’s no longer a floor nurse, she empathizes with the struggles nurses have endured with COVID-19. She’s made sure these frontline workers have a say in the hospital products they receive.

“I’ve been able to help with getting the right PPE, the masks and the gloves, and procuring those kinds of things for them,” she says. “Even if I’m not rolling my sleeves up and actually working with COVID patients, I feel like I have helped in some way.”

Simone is halfway through Aspen University’s DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degree program. She looked at 20 different schools before deciding on Aspen.

“I’m really picky, so I spent a lot of time looking at what was right for me,” she explains. “A lot of boxes were checked for me with Aspen. I found some of it was that their payment plan was very good, but also how they taught and the structure of the courses.”

Simone will soon start the process for her DNP Capstone Project, and she plans to focus on how to increase compliance with bathing and hygiene among nurses for her topic.  

She is also representing Aspen University and North Carolina as an American Association of College of Nurses’ Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA) Advocacy Leader for the 2020-2021 year. In the role, she will learn how to advocate for nursing policy changes and gain hands-on learning experience with legislation. 

Simone is interested in exploring nursing ratios and legislation that’s more inclusive by having nurses making those patient ratio decisions. She says that Aspen’s Dr. Vivienne McDaniel was the one who encouraged her to apply to the leadership position.

“I hadn’t thought about doing it,” says Simone. “You think to yourself, ‘Oh, I’m not good enough’ or, ‘Who am I to go apply for something like that?’ And she encouraged us. All of the Aspen course instructors have been fantastic.”

Simone herself mentors new nurses and always tells them not to beat themselves up over little mistakes. 

Her advice for nurses considering a DNP? “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

“It’s going to be little, incremental steps along the way. You can’t do a giant leap, but you can do a small step, and each small step gets you closer to it.”

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