Commencement Stories: Lou Ann Gleason, nursing educator and community role model

On July 10, hundreds of graduates from across the world will convene in Albany, New York for Excelsior College’s 2015 Commencement, to be held at the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany, New York. “Commencement Stories” explores the stories of a few of this year’s notable graduates.

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Lou Ann Gleason believes that lifelong learning is a necessity and this is what pushed her to continue her education.

“I’ve always had a firm belief to be an example for my children and continue learning,” said Gleason. “You can benefit the most people with what you know.”

Fun Fact: Gleason is currently growing her hair out to be donated to the Locks of Love Program!
Fun Fact: Gleason is currently growing out her hair to be donated to the Locks of Love Program!

The Watertown, New York native now resides in Ellisburg, New York, a small farming community not too far from Lake Ontario. While raising her family in Ellisburg, Gleason was an LPN when her children started school. She knew that she wanted to improve herself and become a registered nurse (RN). With four children enrolled in school and a husband working shifts at a paper mill, Gleason decided to pursue her education, but couldn’t commit to a full-time classroom setting. As she went to her local community college to explore online learning program options they suggested Excelsior College as the best option for her.

Gleason has completed a full academic track with the College, as she has gotten her associate’s, bachelor’s and now master’s degrees with the College. In 2011, she decided to pursue a Master of Science in nursing degree. Now as a New York State Association of School Nurses (NYSASN) Zone 9 representative, she encourages other school nurses to continue their education as well.

“There’s a shortage of nursing educators,” Gleason says of her decision to specialize in a nursing education degree. “At home within my own community people look to me for direction in health care and health matters,” said Gleason.

While taking her courses, she encountered some academic successes and challenges that would push her to persevere. Admittedly, the 4.0 GPA student found her Capstone to be challenging while balancing a full-time job as Nursing Supervisor of her local school district. However, with the support from her academic mentor, special education teacher Michelle Washburn, and her family, Gleason was able to maintain outstanding grades and a rewarding educational experience that would be useful to her in her career. “I have been very fortunate to have had such caring professors that have supported me throughout my educational journey,” she said.

Gleason will utilize her degree by continuing her path as a nursing educator within her community.

“Excelsior has prepared me for entry level positions in the nursing education field,” said Gleason. “With the support of my husband of 40 years and my adult children, it has made a wonderful difference in preparing me for my role here as a school nurse and educator of my staff.”

Gleason will be attending commencement with her husband on July 10.