Commencement Stories: Andrew Palm, a male nurse and three time Excelsior grad is part of the “gold standard”

Andrew Palm is a 2016 Excelsior graduate earning his Master of Science in nursing education. Growing up in Cortland, New York, Palm currently lives there with his wife Terry, young son John and cat Santa. Earning his associate degree in business from Excelsior College in 1991 and a two time graduate in nursing education, Palm knew Excelsior is what worked for him.  Also, as an Excelsior College academic partner student, Palm received his associate degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College in 2012. Palm now works as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Nursing. During his free time, Palm enjoys being a leader in both Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting as well as belonging to the New York State Nurses Association. Palm sat down with Excelsior Life to discuss his educational journey.

Excelsior Life: Where did you first hear about Excelsior?

Palm: I am a 1991 A.S. in Business graduate of Excelsior College back when it was known as Regents College. I had become aware of the College in the late 1980s. Naturally, when I started thinking about progressing my education in nursing, Excelsior was really the only choice which made sense to me. What I discovered is Excelsior had continued to position itself on the cutting edge of distance learning, as distance learning became the cutting edge of expanding nursing education.


Excelsior Life: What degree did you choose and why?

Palm: I started back at Excelsior College in the RN to BSN program as soon as I became a registered nurse. From there, I decided to enter into the Master of Science in nursing education program. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn.


Excelsior Life: What programs and/or courses were most influential to you?

Palm: The RN to BSN program was influential because it really rounded up my nursing knowledge and gave me a much bigger perspective on the profession. The Master of Science in nursing education program has been the most significant influence because it opened doors which I didn’t know existed. My master’s degree capstone course was very influential because I had Dr. Mary Ann Theiss as my instructor and she is a great role model. My capstone mentor was Dr. Robin Dewald and she has been instrumental in role modeling, mentoring, teaching, and research for me.


Excelsior Life: Did you face any academic challenges along the way?  How did you overcome?

Palm: Learning American Psychological Association (APA) style to write succinctly and with clarity, while applying the nuances of citation, has been a challenge for me as it seems to be for every nursing student. Creating time to read, research, and write while carrying a full time course load and working full time has been an ongoing challenge. Like everything in nursing, I managed by constantly re-prioritizing my work and keeping my academic work priority high.

Excelsior Life: Did you have a support system? If so, in what way did they help?

Palm: My family was supportive and many of my nursing colleagues were also. My two older children were in graduate school at the same time I was so they really understood the intensity of effort I needed to put into learning. Then there are the friends I’ve made with students I’ve been in class with. The bonding and support from people you share classes with can turn into continuing friendships. They know how you feel, and what you need to hear, because they have been there with you in the work of learning.

Excelsior Life: Do you think you’ve been able to apply what you’ve learned toward your career?

Palm: My BSN opened the opportunity to take the full time position I currently have as a public health nurse and to become an adjunct clinical instructor of nursing. My master’s degree has given me the opportunity to teach community/public health nursing in the baccalaureate program at Excelsior College.

Excelsior Life: What does having this degree mean to you?

Palm: There is a certain level of satisfaction from having earned each degree but my master’s degree in particular. I think the real meaning to me is the understanding of nursing I have and the ability that gives me to build my knowledge as a nurse and as a professional educator. It means my world will continue to expand.


Excelsior Life: Any final thoughts or other issues you’d like to emphasize regarding your education at Excelsior College?

Palm: I’ve taken courses at a number of bricks and mortar schools, as well as distance learning schools, and I can say from experience that Excelsior College really is the gold standard in distance learning at the collegiate level. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to participate in course revision as a graduate student, and to teach as an adjunct faculty member, my perception of Excelsior College as the gold standard is only reinforced.


Excelsior Life: Are you coming to Commencement? Anyone coming to Commencement with you?

Palm: I wouldn’t miss Commencement for the world. I came in 2014 to receive my baccalaureate degree and had a wonderful experience. My Capstone project resulted in continuing collaboration with a team of nurse educators and they will be there to share the Commencement experience too.