Several years ago, Amanda Lavine Kelly’s uncle slipped into a coma after a drug overdose.
“I began 24-hour watch shifts to ensure adequate care for him,” she said. “Through this experience, my dream to one day work in health care turned into an undeniable mission. It was through his eight months of suffering and his passing that I realized how much of a difference health care professionals can make in the lives of patients and their families. I know I have what it takes to make a difference every day.”
Before starting college, Kelly needed to earn her GED.
“Growing up in a poor, uneducated family riddled with substance abuse and mental health diseases, I made a decision at the early age of 16 to drop out of high school to support myself and separate myself from my toxic living situation,” she said. “Looking back, I give myself a lot of credit for making that work, and I attribute my independence and motivation to it.”
After a few years of working full time, Kelly returned to COD to earn her GED and then a few years later began college. She juggles two jobs while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
“There was no doubt that when I finally committed to attending college that I would attend College of DuPage. I was in-district and the price, location, programs offered and reputation of the College itself made it the best choice for me,” she said. “Everyone—the teachers, counselors, financial aid and my fellow students—truly made it a wonderful experience for me.
“I owe a huge thanks to the Learning Commons for my success. I had tutoring in English, Math and Chemistry. Even when the normal tutoring hours didn’t work with my work schedule, they went above and beyond to assure someone could be there to help when I needed it. I was a member of the international honors society Phi Theta Kappa. They helped me with the whole transfer process and finding transfer scholarships.”
While at COD, Kelly earned several scholarships from the College of DuPage Foundation: the GED Scholarship, Foundation Textbook Scholarship, Returning Adult Scholarship and the Community Promise Scholarship. They not only helped with her short-term educational expenses and long-term financial stability, but they also allowed her to concentrate on saving money so she could quit working and continue her education.
Kelly was accepted into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Elmhurst College and received a $22,000 academic scholarship. Before entering the program, she stayed at COD to finish the requirements for the BSN program. She concluded her first year with a 3.8 GPA and completed clinicals at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield and University of Chicago – Comer Children’s Hospital.
Having earned her degree and passed her boards, she is a nurse at Rush University Medical Center in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where she worked as a student assistant while finishing school. She was nominated for the “Patient Safety: Good Catch” award, and she is being trained as a preceptor. Her long-term goal is to become either a women’s health nurse practitioner or a certified nurse midwife.
Kelly would recommend College of DuPage to anyone looking for a college.
“Stop considering it and just do it!” she said. “College of DuPage is affordable and convenient. I worked eight to five Monday to Friday and could always find classes that worked with my schedule. It all comes down to you getting what you put in and College of DuPage offers plenty of resources to help you along the way.”