Lynn Anne Gantt readily concedes she had doubts when she decided to return to college to obtain a nursing degree. But the drive to succeed helped fuel the single 40-something mother of four young sons to overcome the challenges on her path toward achieving her dream of becoming an RN.
Not only did she complete her nursing degree in December, but she was chosen by her peers to deliver the student address to more than 60 new nursing graduates at Loyola Universitys Honors and Pinning ceremony in Maywood.
You could say Im lucky, Gantt said. You could say Im nontraditional. But I think my story is definitely an example of how surprised people can be at what they can accomplish when they go after their dreams.
Gantt worked for many years at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in New Orleans as a biomedical engineer overseeing the maintenance of medical equipment. When she suddenly found herself single in 2009, Gantt, now 48 and living in Western Springs in Chicagos west suburbs, decided to follow the calling to patient bedside care she had felt for many years.
As a biomedical engineer, I was involved in healthcare, yes, but I felt like I always missed out on patient care, Gantt said.
After two years of considering her next steps, Gantt returned to college, first to a local community college to secure her academic prerequisites before applying to the Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing in Maywood to enroll in the schools 16-month accelerated nursing degree program in 2013.
While the program was extremely rigorous and strenuous, Gantt said keeping up with her coursework was just part of her worries. She wondered how she could afford tuition. That concern was answered by fellow congregants at her church, Western Springs Baptist Church. They raised the money she needed through anonymous donors.
I still dont know who donated, Gantt said. I count them all as friends, but I dont know which ones they were.
Gantt also received assistance from her sister, who helped her care for and homeschool her four sons, now ages 6, 7, 11 and 12.
We worked together to make sure my boys had everything they needed, she said.
Carol Kostovich, PhD, RN, an associate professor at Loyola Chicagos nursing school, said Gantt exemplifies both the art and science of nursing, Kostovich said she instructed Gantt in one course, while supervising her clinical work at other times.
She was homeschooling, while a full-time student herself. Incredible, Kostovich said. “She was passionate about following her dream, to be an exceptional nurse, and weve been amazed at what shes been able to accomplish.
Gantt said she was overwhelmed by the honor to be chosen to speak at the Loyola ceremony, and used the opportunity to challenge her fellow nurses to rise above just being a nurse who showed up, to not just bring basic care but bring healing to the soul as well.
Gantt is preparing for the National Council Licensure RN Exam, and already has been contacted by several people at different hospitals in the region asking her to submit her resume.
Its nothing solid yet, she said. But Im quite hopeful.
Jonathan Bilyk is a freelance writer.