Born and raised in Fremont, California, Scott Wilson came to Ukiah when he found out he was going to become a father. His wife's Mom lived in Ukiah, and offered to have them stay while they got on their feet. The couple took a chance and Scott found a position at a local restaurant as a cook/cashier. Although promoted to manager, working 48+ hours a week, the family still struggled financially. Scott continued to search for something better, motivated by "the example my mother and father set for me to be a parent and support your family."
Scott had heard of the RN program at Mendocino College and with Counselor Steve Crossman's help, discovered many of his previous college units from a computer programming major were transferable to nursing. "I did not want to end up stuck in a dead end career and figured I better do something quick while my family was still young. Meanwhile, my wife was looking into every service available to help me return to college."
Through the CalWorks program, Scott received help paying for books, gas and supplies. Still undecided whether he wanted to become a teacher or a nurse, Scott came to the realization that in many ways nurses are teachers.
At a young age, Wilson lost his father, and watched other friends and family members struggle with cancer and other illnesses. The hospice program opened up his eyes to the roles nurses play in the community. "Listening to my mother's experience with the healthcare professionals she dealt with during her battle with breast cancer also had a big impact on my decision to pursue nursing."
At Mendocino College, Scott discovered "top-notch" instructors, especially in the science and nursing departments. "I found the best instructors are the ones that can teach you through conversation, storytelling, and sharing personal / professional experiences. The small classroom environments at Mendocino College make for ideal student-teacher interactions; I think students get more personalized interaction with the teacher and have better learning outcomes because of it. The Nursing Program is a perfect example of this—22 students and the same four instructors for two years. It is the perfect learning environment."
In addition to teachers who were ready and willing to help, Scott found great resources in the science lab, computer lab, learning center and library—and a place to meet with a study group. Scott believes "the secret to college success is study groups, one-hundred percent."
A frequent visitor to the Financial Aid office, Scott found "huge help" with Pell Grants, fee waivers and more, including his own Calworks Advocate, Tola Levison. Receiving a surprise gift at graduation from Mr. Albert Beltrami through the Mendocino College Foundation was huge. The gift was a check made payable to each nurse in the amount of $400 to fund their state board examination fee!
Nursing is a difficult profession. Scott learned "you need to have a certain level of fear in the back of your head to keep you safe." Barbara French, Director of Nursing Education, gave Scott this advice: "As long as you stop and take a deep breath before you walk in the room and say I can do this, you can overcome your fear without it affecting your patient care."
Ginger Bushway, Administrative Assistant for the Nursing Program, helped Scott with his paperwork and clinical placement issues, "making it possible for me to attend classes and utilize community services." Scott found motivation from science instructors Rachel Donham, Sue Blundell and Brian Varkevisser, and cannot say enough about Barbara French, Fran Laughton, Karen Wilson, and Nora Danning, who "transformed me into a nurse through lecture, lab, simulation, and much more." Scott also gives "special thanks to Lilli Rice and Jill Bartlomie who were my clinical instructors, and gave me the opportunity to see a variety of patients and helped me gain confidence on the med-surg floor. Elsa Segurra, Scott's preceptor at Ukiah Valley Medical Center is another person Scott will never forget; "she took me under her wing for 132 hours and really trained me how to be a nurse."
Through it all, Scott, like so many young parents, found the major obstacle was finding that balance between school and family. Yet his family is what made all the difference: his mother, who made it possible for him to return to school, his children's great grandmother, Theresa Palato, who helped care for his children throughout, and most especially his wife, who "put her life on hold in order for me to go out and pursue a degree in Nursing. She inspired me to succeed, and I will be returning the favor very soon when it is her turn to go through a nursing program." Scott also gets "daily motivation to succeed from his children," who "changed his life."
Now that Scott has graduated with his RN, he hopes to find work here in Ukiah or the surrounding area at a community based hospital or clinic. He is also currently pursuing his bachelor's degree through Sonoma State University and will graduate in the summer of 2013.
Scott Wilson, Mendocino College Student Success Story
Date of Interview: 7/19/2012
Written by Christine Mullis