Acquiring an education is a feasible goal regardless of a person’s age. This is something MidAmerica Nazarene University nursing student Jane Martin believes with all her heart.

Jane MartinRet. LTC Ken Martin, Jane Martin holding grandson Owen Martin, Dave Martin (eldest son), Robert (youngest son) and Robin Martin with son Christopher.

With 36 years of experience in the nursing profession and at 59 years of age, Martin took the next step in education to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at MNU.

Graduating as an RN in 1978 Martin always had planned on continuing her education to the next level, but life caught up with her. She started working as a nurse, raising two sons and following her military husband to various posts. After the children came, they settled down in Vancouver, Washington where her husband, Ken, joined the Army Reserves.

“It was always my goal to go back and get my bachelor’s but there was never the opportunity or maybe the desire. And then I had two sons who also went into the military,” Martin says.

In 2010, a big life change occurred for Jane when Ken decided to return to active military status and they were posted at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Ken worked as an operations officer and Jane worked as a nurse at Munson Army Medical Center. As it turns out, this presented an educational opportunity for both of them. Ken and Jane qualified for the post 9/11 G.I. Bill, passed by Congress in 2010, that provides veterans and their eligible dependents with education assistance.

“Ken got his master’s and he said ‘You know, you need to do this.’ And so with the encouragement of my family and friends, I decided to go back to school,” Martin explains.

She had not been in an academic setting in more than 35 years and was apprehensive, but the opportunity to advance her career with tuition assistance, was something she wasn’t about to turn down.

“It was the best opportunity I’ve had in my nursing career. Sometimes you become a nurse and you lose your desire to be educated,” Martin says.

She learned about MNU’s accelerated RN to BSN program through a friend at church, Deborah Petty, associate professor of nursing at MNU. Petty encouraged Martin to apply, and since the program is offered both online and in person, Martin could take classes and not have to travel to campus from Leavenworth, about an hour away. In 2013 Martin learned she was accepted.

Although apprehensive at first, Martin soon got into the routine of juggling home life, work and her studies with the help of her instructors, MNU’s tutoring center (Kresge Center) and fellow students.  Since she hadn’t been in school for some time, learning to use the technology and navigate the online courses presented a learning curve for her, but she says the instructors were always willing to help and very supportive.

“I had amazing instructors, they were so helpful. I hadn’t written a paper in a lot of years and they educated me on how to do that,” Martin explained.

During her program, Martin learned she has a passion for helping others with health and wellness. Going through the stress of pursuing a degree while working, Martin learned to cope well through healthy habits and exercise.

“I learned to embrace the stress and go into each class to learn something new. I exercised, ate healthy and held a positive attitude with the blessings of God,” Martin comments.

Martin knows she can help others do the same.

 “I feel like if I can mentor somebody, I can help them have a positive attitude towards their education, that they can do it. I think sometimes people think they can’t do it, and if you can change your thinking and think ‘Yes I can do this, I have the support of the instructors, I have the support of the students, if I find ways to decrease stress, I can do this,’” Martin explains.

As a result of what she has learned about herself, Martin plans to return to MNU for a Master of Science in Nursing focusing on the public health track. 

“Where I want to help people at the end of my career is helping people get healthy, so we can have decreased complications from obesity. About 35 percent of people are obese, and I want to help decrease those statistics. It’s a matter of helping them lose weight and exercising. I want to help people in that avenue of nursing,” Martin says.

Does it matter at what age you advance your career? Martin says no.

“You can do this at any age, whether your 69 years old or you’re just out of school,” Martin says, “Going to school after 35 years was the best thing I could have done for myself. Getting my Bachelor of Science in Nursing has been both a professional and personal goal. The support of the instructors and students gave me the confidence that I can accomplish my goals,” Martin adds.