Shanalynn Trent wanted to become a nurse from the time she was eight years old, but it took her a little longer than planned to realize her dream. After marrying and having children at a young age, Shanalynn moved from her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the Bronx, New York, and started working in Manhattan in banking.
An unexpected layoff and a realization that the financial industry wasn’t for her prompted Shanalynn to go back to school. “I realized that I wasn’t happy,” she says. Shanalynn talked to her husband about getting into healthcare. She started phlebotomy school within a month of losing her job and became a phlebotomy assistant at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
A move upstate
When Shanalynn’s children were ready for school, she and her husband decided it was time for a slower pace and the family moved to Middletown in New York’s Hudson Valley. She transferred to Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in 2009—and decided it was time to finally take the plunge and start nursing school.
Shanalynn got into the nursing program at Orange County Community College. She worked during the day as an emergency room tech and a phlebotomist and went to school at night. Her three sons were 17, 14 and 12 years old at the time. “My husband was the best supporter and my sons got used to making pots of spaghetti for dinner,” she says. In 2014, Shanalynn graduated with her ADN and moved to the medical-surgical floor—a night shift position—at St. Luke’s Cornwall.
A BSN to open doors
Shanalynn enjoyed working on the med-surg floor, but she found herself wondering what other opportunities might be available to her. “In looking around, I realized the BSN was important,” she says. “Even during my time at Orange County Community College, instructors were telling us how the bachelor’s degree was becoming the entry level point for nurses. If I ever wanted to teach or do something like home healthcare, I knew that I needed to get more education.”
Searching for the right program
In 2016, Shanalynn had a knee surgery that put her on bedrest for a little while. “It seemed like the perfect time to start working on my degree,” she says. She asked colleagues if they knew of any recommended online programs and was referred to American Sentinel University. “I liked everything about American Sentinel. I was impressed with how supportive and organized they are, and I liked the fact that I didn’t need to do clinicals again.”
The year after starting the BSN program, Shanalynn left St. Luke’s Cornwall for a position on the cardiac progressive care unit at Orange Regional Medical Center, a Magnet facility. “It was actually where I’d applied after getting my RN but wasn’t hired because I didn’t have the BSN,” she says. With the BSN underway, she decided to try again—and she got the job. She also started working for Hudson Valley Developmental Disabilities Regional Office, which offers residential care and other services for disabled adults.
Step by step
With two jobs and everything else on her plate, school hasn’t been easy for Shanalynn. But she has never given up—and has appreciated the self-paced nature of American Sentinel. Her husband and sons—college students and graduates/young professionals now—have cheered her along.
Most of all, she’s been pleased with how much she has learned along the way. “I wasn’t sure how much I really needed school, but I’ve broadened my perspective and realized that I really like learning,” she says. Next month, Shanalynn will finish her last class and make plans to walk at commencement in June 2020. “I’m really excited. This has been a great experience with a lot of ‘ah hah’ moments. I think it will help me do whatever I choose to do next.” I
Inspired by Shanalynn’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and 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.