How to be Successful in Nursing School: Hint – It may not be what you think.

utica-student-excellence-award-recipientBeing successful in nursing school goes beyond passing tests and showing up for labs.  At Utica College’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, your success is determined not only by your academic performance,  but also your character and determination to become the best nurse you can be.

With that extra work comes reward. It’s important to recognize excellence, especially when you’ve sacrificed a lot to change careers and become a nurse. That’s why our instructors and Directors of Nursing Academic Services have decided to honor one ABSN student each semester who stands out in character, performance and academic excellence with our Student of Excellence Award. Last month, the honor went to Lee R. Calmes Jr., Utica College ABSN Fall Class of 2016.

His instructors say, while it is hard to single out one student, Lee was chosen this semester because he is a conscientious and committed student who is always reliable and happy to assist. Also, his positive attitude made him stand out to faculty because despite having a great deal on his plate – an adorable young son and another baby on the way – he never complains or makes excuses.  His professors all agree – he is the kind of a nurse they would like to have as a colleague.

We talked to Lee about how he felt receiving the award and how he initially decided to enroll at Utica College.

How did it feel to win the Student of Excellence Award?

As the only African American graduating in my cohort, it meant a lot to receive the Student of Excellence Award. Utica College St Petersburg has consistently promoted an environment of acceptance where respecting others and their views are the norm.

Furthermore, due to unseen events such as the passing of my father during the first semester, I know that if it was not for the members at Utica College and my peers I wouldn’t have been successful. So this award gave me hope, happiness and gratitude.

What does winning this award mean to you?

Winning the award I hold a responsibility to be not only the best nurse that I can be, but also the best person that I can be. I also think that this award will make me more ambitious in my endeavors to further my education because it gives me the confidence I need to succeed.

utica-student-lee-speakingWhat did you do before you enrolled in nursing school?

Before entering nursing school I was a Sergeant in the United States Army. My jobs were Combat Medic and License Practical Nurse. Before that I was a Middle School Language Arts teacher at Baypoint Middle School in St Petersburg, Florida. I received my first Bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN on December 13, 2003.

Why did you choose the ABSN program?

Working as a LPN in the Army I found that nursing was my calling and I wanted to further my education. I am also a husband and father so I knew if I were to complete a nursing program it would have to be not only flexible and the duration of the program would have to be short as well.

What made Utica College stand apart?

Utica College stood apart from other colleges for me due to the time it would take to complete the program. There were not many colleges that offered a Bachelor’s degree in the timeframe Utica College did. I also think it is important to note that I was able to come in and speak with current students before I chose to attend. Through these conversations I made my decision to attend Utica College’s ABSN program. I am happy with the decision because the flexibility was what I needed and the professors, clinical instructors, and success coaches are all truly amazing and have made the experience enjoyable.

When does your success story begin?

If you are like Lee and wanted to make a change and become a nurse, talk to an admission representative and learn more about our 16-month accelerated bachelor of nursing programs in St. Petersburg, Florida or Syracuse, New York.

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