Alumni Profile

Carolyn P. McCartney

Degree:   Associate of Applied Science in nursing degree, highest honors
Employed as:   Registered nurse
Carolyn's Story

Carolyn McCartney, RN, of Bridgewater, Virginia, realized her lifelong dream of becoming a registered nurse (RN) when she earned an associate degree in nursing in November 2009, graduating with a grade point average of 3.95. As a child, McCartney cared for her pets and her younger siblings, always hoping to one day attend nursing school. Life took a different path, though, and many years passed before she was able to apply to a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program.

Working to complete the LPN program was challenging. As a single parent of two young children, McCartney struggled to balance home, work, and school responsibilities. She worried about not spending enough time with her children, wondering how her time away would affect their lives. But she persevered, completed the program, and began working as an LPN.

McCartney soon realized, however, that she wanted to further her education and become a registered nurse. She enrolled in classes but found it difficult to transfer credit when the family moved several times for her husband’s job. Then she read about Excelsior College, enrolled in the associate degree nursing program, and began preparing for exams. Unfortunately, her husband became very ill; there were times when she felt overwhelmed, but she would contact the College and her academic advisors provided the support and encouragement she needed to continue.

It took 25 years to realize her dream, but McCartney is now a registered nurse. What do her children think? “Years later I asked if they resented the time I spent on school [when they were so young],” she related. “I was surprised to learn that instead of resentment, they said they respected and admired me for my hard work and determination.”

McCartney is contemplating her future, looking ahead to earning a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Her success at Excelsior College has given her the confidence to overcome her doubts and keep moving forward. “I want to make a difference in someone’s life, whether it is for the moment or a lifetime. I want to help ease someone’s pain or fear, offer reassurance, comfort and encouragement.”