Sitting around their kitchen table at night, everyone in Kristy Green’s house stayed busy. Her 3-year-old son colored, her 7-year-old son did his schoolwork — and mom poured over her college textbooks.
About midnight, after putting the kids to sleep and studying a bit more, she collapsed into bed, getting just enough energy to pull herself from under the covers at 4 a.m. to start the next day.
Green’s diligence paid off with her acceptance Saturday of her associate’s degree in nursing from Brown Mackie College. Commencement ceremonies took place at the Bicentennial Center.
Good times, tough times
"We have shared good times where we have cried because we have laughed so hard, and we have shared those tough times where we have had to wrap our arms around each other to get through to the next day," said Green, one of the students chosen to speak.
The graduates would not be accepting their diplomas, she said, without the support, the encouragement and long talks with significant others, plus sacrifice for the sake of improving their families’ lives. Which, in Green’s case, speaks volumes about the commitment she’s made.
She spent nine years serving in the Army, at Irwin Army Hospital at Fort Riley, where she worked as a mental health technician. Her husband, a flight medic, has been deployed three times to Iraq. She left the military and started classes at Brown Mackie two months after his departure on his third deployment.
"We knew he was going to be gone. I just figured it would help the two years go by faster," Green said.
A grueling daily schedule kept Green occupied. Thursday, for example, she rose at 4 a.m., got herself ready, dressed and fed the kids, and drove from her home in Detroit, in Dickinson County, to Enterprise, where she dropped her oldest off. She dropped her youngest son off at preschool in Abilene, before getting back on the road to come to school at Brown Mackie’s Salina campus.
On days she has clinical practice, she’s at Salina Regional Health Center from 6:45 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. Then it’s back to Brown Mackie for a couple of hours of class. Then it’s off to preschool to pick up her youngest son. She gets home, picks up the house and makes dinner right before her oldest gets home on the bus.
"I play with them for about a half an hour, then we do homework," she said. "I bathe them, get them into bed, and then I do my own homework." Her next milestone comes in June, when she’s on track to receive her registered nurse certification. She’s hoping her husband can leave the officer training school in Texas, where he’s been since April, in time to see her receive her RN pin.
Green was smiling proudly Saturday, a yellow sash in honor of academic achievement standing out against her blue graduation gown. She was also president of the college’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, an international honor society, and was named to its Kansas all-state academic team in recognition of her 3.8-plus grade-point average.
‘Grandmas do graduate’
Saturday’s other degree recipient selected to address her classmates was Angela Brady. Brady, a mother of three and a grandmother to five, drew chuckles when she remarked about her difficulties with college algebra. Nevertheless, she finished with a 4.0 GPA.
"Grandmas do graduate and we do go to college. And we finish," Brady said, tearing up as she spoke. (salina.com)