By December, many Cincinnatians are living part-time in Florida, basking in sunshine; but Floridian Doris Washington-Tucker, 59, canít wait to arrive in Cincinnati this month to attend UCís December commencement ceremonies, where sheíll receive her masterís with an advanced nurse practitioner (NP) degree in Womenís Health from the UC College of Nursing.
"Oh I wouldnít miss it for the world,Ē Tucker exclaimed in late November via phone from her Miami, home, excitedly describing her plans to drive the 1,000 miles to reach the UC campus; and her experience as both a non-traditional student and a distance learning student at that.
"A lot of my co-workers are in my age group and when I started talking about going back to school they thought I was crazy Ö so part of the challenge was getting over the negative karma,Ē Tucker said. "I guess I wasnít really all that Ďgung hoí about it myself, but my husband always says I am the most positive person, so I thought, you know, Iíll just pick up the phone and ask some questions.
"Well, from the first phone call I made I was never disappointed. The advisor informed me of the documents I needed and then she took it from there. They made it very, very easy; and it was very smooth just like they said it would be.
"Just donít ask me to get up and speak at commencement,Ē Tucker joked, pointing to how anxious she was when she addressed her graduating class when she received her bachelor of science in nursing from Miami Dade University in 2011.
Itís an ironic fear, considering that Tucker wound up in Miami, and the UC distance learning program, out of bravery: First, having moved her entire family to Miami-Dade County after hurricane Andrew hit the Miami area hard in 1978. Tucker, who was living in New Orleans at the time with her husband and young sons, and held an RN diploma from Charity Hospital, said that one day she just looked at the devastation there, and then looked at her family, and said, "there is no drinking water and there are no nursesĒ and they picked up and moved to the Sunshine state.
That bravery shined through again, 2.5 years ago, when she made the call to the UC College of Nursing.
While Tucker has worked at different health care facilities in Miami over the years, she says she found her calling in womenís health having spent the last 10 years as a labor and delivery nurse at Baptist Health in South Miami, where she serves the areaís most vulnerable populations. In her current position, working under her RN status with a supportive nursing director, sheís been able to have a flexible schedule to accommodate her study scheduleówhich she happily admitted included the occasional solo trip to the Walt Disney World Marriott in Orlando, where Tucker says she would spread books and papers across the bed and have the Magic Kingdom well within reach for a respite.
As for her age, and the advice she gives those who think itís too late to go back for an advanced degree, she said: "Even though some of my peers donít see retirement in their future, they are afraid of the technology that goes along with getting an advanced degree online. I tell all of them that Ďtimes have changedí and we have to keep up, because if we donít keep up we are going to get lost, and that all of these young nurses who know how to use all of this technology are our friends. That they can teach us just as much as we can teach them Ö that it can be an even exchange.Ē