When Tony Badway was in grade school, his mother signed him up for a pig dissection class.
“My Mom always offered me options for summer activities, and when she brought up dissection, I jumped right on it!” he said. “Looking back, it was super obvious that I loved the sciences over all other subjects.”
At the age of 21, halfway through his senior year in college, Badway was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia and hospitalized.
“I was very sick and faced with the distinct possibility of death from this illness,” he said. “Oddly, I found myself captivated by the workings around me. Every activity of the nurses and doctors I would carefully observe and then ask questions to fill the gaps in my understanding. My own potentially deadly illness even sparked intrigue as the mechanism of the disease is unbelievably fascinating.”
During the next 10 years, Badway attained and held remission through new, specialized drugs that effectively targeted the illness. However, the side effects kept him in a weakened state and prone to illness.
When he and his wife, Patricia, wanted to start a family, he was directed to stop medication. After their son, JD, was born, he decided with his doctor to stay off the medication and instead take regular blood tests, which he continues to do. Along with improved health, he and his wife now have a second child, Britton.
“With so much going right and the clarity that goes along with good health, I decided to make my move into the world of nursing,” he said. “My wife got into nursing in her mid-20s, and as I heard about her day-to-day adventures, I got more and more interested over the years.”
Badway previously had taken a Russian history class at College of DuPage and was happy to return. Although he had been out of school for more than 10 years, he enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology and got on track quickly.
In addition to being in the Nursing program, Badway worked for the College as a professional tutor of pathophysiology and pharmacology, which allowed him the dual benefit of helping other students while refining his own knowledge base and understanding.
He also received the Foundation Textbook and Returning Adult scholarships from the COD Foundation.
“The Foundation was unbelievably generous, and the scholarships allowed me to cut back my work hours enough to succeed in my courses,” he said. “The Nursing program is rigorous so the scholarships were absolutely essential.”
Badway also benefited from his wife’s expertise.
“She loved that I was in school because we got to do case studies and review test questions together. I think she liked to test herself to see what she had retained from her early nursing school days,” he said.
Having earned his degree, Badway then completed his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Western Governors University and is now in a psychiatric nurse practitioner master’s program at Wilkes University. He currently works part-time as a nurse in a locked psychiatric unit.
Badway is happy that COD helped him achieve his goals, both economic and academic.
“Minimizing debt is always a good strategy, so if you don't know what you want to do, take courses at COD first. If you know what you want to do and COD offers the program, it’s likely the best or close to the best price,” he said. “With regards to nursing schools, a lot of people put emphasis on getting their bachelor’s degrees at an accelerated pace. I did a ton of research and for me, at age 37, enrolling in COD’s two-year Associate Degree in Nursing program was, pound for pound, the right move. Once you are working, there may be educational assistance to help pay for your bachelor’s degree. I know COD partners with several universities to offer a bachelor’s degree at a good price. Bottom line – minimize debt.
“I also commend the people working at COD, who have been wonderful. The professors really care about the students. Professor Jason Adams taught a killer hybrid Microbiology class that was super-interesting, while Professor Cari Beecham-Bautista commuted quite a distance to teach us Sociology, and I still think about concepts of that course every day. Two of my nursing professors so far, Dilyss Gallyot and Janice Miller, are both COD alumni and I really can’t say enough good things about their character. I have received excellent instruction from Dr. Larinda Dixon as well as Professors Judy Carino, Julie Garcia, Donna Kanak, Jessica Fish, Melissa McGovern and Sarah Born. Professor Maureen Waller challenged my critical thinking skills and helped me grow as a student and professional. Jennifer Chiavola, the program support specialist, did an amazing job of keeping all of the nursing students on track with their health requirements such as vaccinations and certifications. Marilyn Bumber and Carol Trotter were very caring and thoughtful CNA instructors. Everyone at COD wants you to do your best.”