Sandburg Helps Single Mom Pritchett Start New Life as Nurse

  Aaron Frey
  Wednesday, May 15, 2019 4:46 PM
  Campus News

Galesburg, IL

Carrie Pritchett has no doubt what her emotions will be like when she becomes the first person in her family to graduate from college.

“I’ll be bawling like a baby,” Pritchett said. “I know I will.”

For Pritchett, a single mother from Aledo with two teenage sons, earning her associate degree in nursing from Carl Sandburg College this week will mark the end of a life-changing decision and the start of a new beginning as she begins a new job at Galesburg Cottage Hospital.

Pritchett had worked as a cosmetologist for 15 years, but when she and her husband divorced five years ago, she had to rethink how to best support herself and her two sons, now 18 and 15.

“I was working a lot to make ends meet, but I didn’t have health insurance or a retirement plan, so I knew I needed to go back to college,” Pritchett, 39, said. “I wanted to have a job where I could have that same kind of relationship with people, so it was natural for me to turn to nursing.”

Pritchett took one or two prerequisites each semester for two years before starting the nursing program full-time.

“Not only do I have all the homework to do, but I have a house to clean and laundry to do and supper to cook,” said Pritchett, who was one of six students statewide to receive a $1,000 Illinois Community College Faculty Association Scholarship for 2018-19. “The hardest part of attending school full-time is balancing all that.”

With nursing, she’s found that her passion for patients is just as strong as the connections she had with clients when cutting hair.

“I love it more than I imagined I would,” Pritchett said. “I love going to my clinical days and meeting these patients. They want to talk to you, and I just love hearing their stories. It doesn’t feel like school and it doesn’t feel like work to me. It’s just building relationships.”

As a nontraditional student, Pritchett said having real-world experience before coming back to the classroom was been a benefit for her, especially when it came to juggling schoolwork and her home life.

“Some days I feel like I’m handling it OK, but the next day that may not be the case,” Pritchett said. “But I think because of my age, for one, and life experience, I’ve learned that you don’t dwell on some of those downs. You just make a list and start crossing things off.”

And just as her sons were on her mind when she began this journey, they’ll be there when she completes it.

“They’ve been what pushes me because I’m not doing this just for me,” Pritchett said. “I’m doing it for them, too.”

Carrie Pritchett

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Aaron Frey