No time like the present - Jennifer Johnson

For Jennifer Johnson, being diagnosed with breast cancer was a life-altering event - but it’s one she wouldn’t change. For all its uncertainty, the experience provided her with the inspiration she needed to take the next step in her educational journey.

As a medical professional for the past 25 years, Johnson has proudly taken on the challenge of helping others, serving as an operating room circulating nurse at a hospital in Maple Grove, Minnesota. She had been considering pursuing an RN to BSN degree but was not sure if the timing was right.

“I hemmed and hawed over the years, thinking, ‘Do I go back to school? Do I not? What do I do? I’m in my 40’s now, is this something I should even pursue?’”

In April of 2014, Johnson’s breast cancer diagnosis put many things in a new light, including achieving her educational goals. After enduring chemotherapy and seven surgeries, she was fortunate to find herself in remission and cancer-free.  At that point she realized that time was of the essence and the time to pursue her education was now.

Not long after, while visiting her parents in Arizona, a family friend recommended ASU Online as an option for pursuing her Bachelor’s. The flexibility of an online RN to BSN degree coupled with the university’s high national rankings were a big plus.

“I started looking at it and it just seemed to make sense. Everything just started to fall into place,” says Johnson.

Johnson’s career goals include innovating new ways to achieve staff satisfaction to maintain the health and wellbeing of both patients and providers. She knew that her degree from ASU would open the doors to help make it happen. With a new path forward, she wondered what it would be like to return to school after nine years, in a completely digital medium.

”It’s hard because chemo changes your concentration and your mental status a little bit,” says Johnson. “I didn’t know how I was gonna react . . . I didn’t know if I was going to be smart enough to do these classes.”

Fortunately, her fears were quickly allayed as she began her journey with ASU Online, finding support through every step in the process.

“I got so many phone calls the first couple weeks - first admissions, then the counselors and the academic advisors and the success coaches. I couldn’t believe it,” Johnson explains. “I feel like it’s just been so easy. Everything has been put into place to help you be successful.”

Johnson also cites her instructors as a source of her confidence. She specifically calls out one of her Nursing professors, Dr. Carol Stevens, and her statistics professor. With the support of her instructor, the success coaches and the help desk, Johnson was successful in the class, which gave her the encouragement to keep going.

“It’s a great program.” said Johnson. “The professors care and they want you to be successful.”

Support for her education has come not only from ASU, but also from people at work and at home, including her husband and son. Even when she spends her weekends at the kitchen table working on her assignments, they understand the value of what she’s doing.

“I look at this whole thing as a blessing . . . If I could go back and not have breast cancer, I don’t think I would. It’s made me grow so much as a person and it’s made me appreciate life more. It’s made me a better nurse and a better student.”

Johnson says it reignited her drive to move forward, made her mentally tougher and helped her to not be so afraid.

“Nothing’s as hard as seven surgeries in two years and chemotherapy. So if I can get through that crap, I can totally get through this,” she said.

Johnson has a year left in her RN to BSN program and has enjoyed the experience so much, she may pursue a Master’s online through ASU.

“I think ASU Online is a great value and I would recommend it to anybody.” said Johnson. “I feel like I’m getting the support and the guidance I need. The convenience of it, and the quality of education is really great.“

Learn more about ASU’s Online RN to BSN program.

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