Nurse appreciates the help she received

Tammy K. Cox is grateful for receiving a Campaign for Nebraska Student Support Fund scholarships.

I received one of the 2010 Campaign for Nebraska Student Support Fund scholarships. I am so grateful. I thought I’d tell you about myself to put a face on someone that a University of Nebraska scholarship is helping.

I was a senior nursing student on UNMC’s Scottsbluff campus. I graduated this past December. I was selected for this scholarship because I completed my degree under “extraordinary circumstances.” Neither of my parents graduated from high school. My father has an eighth-grade education. My mother dropped out of 10th grade and got her GED when I was in the eight-grade in Texas. I attended 16 different schools before graduating from high school in Farnam, Nebraska. After graduating, I moved to Torrington, Wyoming, to live with my grandmother, who became my major supporter. I attended a college there for a couple of years but did not get a degree.

I married my husband in 1992 and moved to Wheatland, Wyoming. My oldest son was born in 1993 with cerebral palsy. It took 20 minutes of resuscitation before he took his first breath. The doctor said he would never walk and suggested that he be institutionalized, which we did not consider. He has an IQ of 56. He struggles with change. My going back to school was not accepted well by him. Change of any kind is extremely difficult for Brady to understand and accept.

My second son was born in 1995 in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Four hours after his birth, he was rushed by ambulance to Grand Island because he had difficulty breathing. He was hospitalized in the NICU for four days. Like his brother, he suffered developmental delays. At the age of 6, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In 2008 he was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis, and in 2009 he was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. He also suffers from Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

And then in February 1998, my husband was kicked in the head while working for a feedlot. He suffered a traumatic brain injury. He has a seizure disorder and requires supervision when I’m not present. He no longer can work.

I started attending classes to become a CNA in the fall of 2005. I then began taking prerequisite courses for nursing through Western Nebraska Community College. After completing those classes, I was accepted into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at UNMC. Throughout college, I’ve had to manage my homework and clinical schedule, schedule caregivers for my husband, deal with any problems the boys encounter at school (which are frequent and demanding). Many people predicted I would not complete the nursing program. But my grandmother and some family members and close friends encouraged me and gave me the support I needed to succeed.

So did people who donated the money for the scholarship. That money – and the good heart of the people who gave it – encouraged me, too. It’s nice to know people I’ve never even met before care about people like me who are trying to better themselves through education.

Grandma passed away the night before my last final of Level 4. It was difficult to graduate without her being here to see it. The local chapter of the Student Nurses Association and the students and teachers at the Scottsbluff campus of UNMC all supported me all the way through my undergraduate studies at UNMC. Every instructor made themselves available whenever I needed help, and the students support one another as well.

The College of Nursing’s priority in the Campaign for Nebraska is to solve the state’s critical nursing shortage by accelerating its delivery of highly educated, highly skilled and compassionate nurses to meet the demands for tomorrow’s complex patient care.

To contribute to the College of Nursing you can give online or contact Kathy Wolfe at 402-502-4118 or 800-432-3216.

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