After earning his first bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Nairobi, Cornel Oduor was lucky enough to land a job with a water and health sanitation non-governmental organization, Kenya Water for Health Organization. “That job led me to where I am today,” says Cornel, who is originally from Kisumu, Kenya. When his job was phased out in 1997, he wound up getting connected to Vi-skogen/Vi Agroforestry, which does agricultural work in four African countries. The company took him to study in the Netherlands through a Dutch fellowship and he earned a master’s degree in natural resource planning and management at the International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Science (ITC), now affiliated with the University of Twente.
Searching for new opportunities
While in the Netherlands, Cornel started thinking about advancing his studies in environmental management. That led him to Texas Tech University, where he worked as a graduate research assistant and enrolled in a master’s program in environmental management. He graduated in 2004.
“Right around the time I was going to graduate, I became very interested in healthcare,” says Cornel. A friend encouraged him to consider becoming a Certified Nurse Aide, and he completed the training and got a job at Garrison Geriatric Center in Lubbock, Texas. “I really enjoyed it and started thinking about pursuing nursing.” Cornel quit his CNA job, moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri, and earned the BSN at Jewish Hospital College of Nursing and Allied Health. He returned to Texas—this time to Dallas—to begin his nursing career.
Building his resume
Cornel started out working at a long-term acute care facility, Lifecare Hospital, and also gained experience in general medical care. He worked in the step-down intensive care unit at Baylor Medical Center in Grapevine, Texas, as well. “My background prior to nursing was related to public health, so I started an online Master of Public Health program at Des Moines University in 2013,” says Cornel. Later, he accepted a position in the Fort Worth Independent School District as the RN in charge of developing programs and procedures for the provision of school health services at Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
Switching gears – and finding American Sentinel University
Partway through the MPH program, Cornel found that epidemiology had captured his interest. “I realized that an MSN in infection prevention and control was really what I wanted,” he says. He scoured master’s programs and discovered American Sentinel University. “The curriculum was exactly what I was looking for, so I took a study leave from the MPH to turn my attention to the MSN. American Sentinel was the only program like it in the country that I found, and that made it stand out to me.” Cornel began the MSN in September 2015.
Back to the hospital
In early 2017, Cornel decided to test the waters and sent resumes to a few open infection prevention and control positions at hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. One especially of interest was at Parkland Hospital, a public health system based in Dallas with 20 community-based clinics, 12 school-based clinics and many outreach and education programs. Parkland is also the primary teaching hospital for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. In April 2017, Cornel was hired as infection preventionist-performance improvement.
“I wouldn’t have been considered for this job without my American Sentinel education,” he says. “When they looked at my coursework, they realized that certain classes I was taking directly transferred to parts of the job. I’m very happy I am earning the degree—it has paid off already.” Cornel will graduate from American Sentinel in September 2017.
A long-term goal
Where Cornel comes from, people consider education an investment—perhaps part of what has inspired his dedication to continuous learning. “Doors have continued to open in my life, and it’s very motivating for me as I’ve moved through my career,” he says.
One day, Cornel hopes to return home to Kenya to give back. “I’ve thought about starting a nonprofit that provides healthcare services,” he says. To arm himself with the skills to do so, he plans to complete his MPH and pursue the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership at American Sentinel. “Education is the key to the future. Whatever you want to do, when you have the knowledge, you can get there.”
Inspired by Cornel’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, or infection control. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.