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How This Alumni Found Hope In Nursing Following Tragedy

RN to MSN Alumni Maggie Ross

We share this inspiring essay from Maggie Ross, who initially left medicine after enduring a tragic loss. Years later, she became a nurse and completed Aspen’s RN to MSN Bridge Program in 2020, with a Nursing Education specialization. She hopes to continue her education even further and help other students with their goals.  

From the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I started my educational journey at the age of 16, as the first one in my first-generation immigrant family to go to college. I always wanted to pursue a career in medicine because my older brother was born with spina bifida. Doctor visits and procedures consumed our family. I knew that I wanted to help people, so I left home and started my path as a pre-med student. 

When I was in my junior year, just a few days before Christmas, my boyfriend was in a horrific car accident in front of my house. He later died at the hospital in front of me. The doctors said there’s nothing they could do to save him. As one could imagine, I was traumatized. My life changed in an instant. I lost faith in God, and I lost faith in medicine. I quit my job at the hospital, which I was working to pay my way through school, and stayed in my house. I was scared to drive and decided I didn’t want to be in the medical field. I could not wake up each day and go to school and stopped going for a while. 

“When you make a wrong turn, follow another route to get back to where you need to go. No matter how long it takes.


Eventually, I forced myself to finish school by switching my major to history, and I became a teacher. This detour proved to be a surprising and rewarding path that led me to meet my husband and to have three amazing kids. I learned many life lessons, and I became an adult very quickly. But for years into this new career, something was missing. I missed the connection I had with patients. And so, I decided to go to nursing school with three young kids, and while I was teaching full-time. While this was challenging at times, my family’s love and support helped me succeed. After starting my career as a nurse, I knew I wanted to continue my education. 

Maggie Ross and her familyAspen University allowed me to pursue an advanced nursing degree while juggling a busy work and family life. The online courses gave me a convenient and comfortable learning environment, no matter where I was. The faculty in every course throughout my Master’s program was easily accessible and communicated clear feedback.

Aspen has helped me gain the knowledge, skills, and values to become the best nurse that I can be. I plan to continue taking courses at Aspen University to complete the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and ultimately work in nursing education. I want to share my passion and love for learning and the rewarding field of nursing with future students.

To my fellow students who are completing a degree in nursing or another area of study, here’s my advice: Have the courage to make your journey. When you make a wrong turn, follow another route to get back to where you need to go. No matter how long it takes. And when life gets hard, and you feel like you can’t go on, look inside yourself and see that you have so much to offer others. 

While my educational journey was longer than I anticipated, I finally reached my goal of working in medicine. I know that anything is possible in my future career.