In a moment of serendipity, Brandi Lyons, a 2018 graduate of Wittenberg University and lifelong resident of Springfield, Ohio, found the path to her educational and career dreams right in her own backyard.
During her senior year at Catholic Central High School, Lyons knew she wanted to pursue a career in nursing. She also knew she wanted to attend a college close to home, so when she learned that Wittenberg would be launching a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program first in partnership with Clark State Community College (and now solely at Wittenberg), she said the decision to attend Wittenberg was “a no-brainer.”
“Going to the school of my choice and studying nursing, what could be better?” she said. “Wittenberg not only met my expectations but exceeded them. I loved the campus and the size. It was a great fit for me!”
The inaugural class of nursing students in 2014 was small, which Lyons said allowed students to “have a more individualized experience. The professors are outstanding and always willing to help in any way they can,” she said. “They strive to help students succeed and that makes Wittenberg stand out.”
In her sophomore year, Lyons began two intense years of nursing coursework and clinicals, which she described as eye-opening and challenging but also the source of some of her greatest experiences.
“Nursing school was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I would never go back and change anything,” she said. “I learned things about myself in nursing school I would have never imagined, and I also did things I never thought possible.”
By the fifth week of clinicals, Lyons had been trained to give injections and was administering flu shots to the elderly. She spent semesters on medical-surgical, cardiac, mental health, post-partum, and labor and delivery units, and had day-long experiences in the ICU, emergency department, and wound center.
“I saw a laparoscopic surgery and watched a baby being born by Caesarean section,” she said. “I provided care to healthy patients getting discharged but also to terminally ill patients who were not going to make it through the night….Getting to watch a new life being born was incredible and having to care for a person who had just passed away was astonishing. It absolutely is and was a privilege for me to be able to witness the beginning and end of life.”
During her four years at Wittenberg, Lyons lived at home and commuted to school.
“I had many people ask me if I missed out on the college experience because I lived at home, but I did not miss out on anything,” she said. “I made sure to stay involved, and I had plenty of friends that lived on campus.”
In the summer before her freshman year, Lyons secured a job in the Office of Admission and continued to work there until she graduated, eventually serving as a tour guide. She credits that position with helping her to develop leadership, communication, public speaking, and people skills, as well as a sense of responsibility.
Lyons also believes the support and resources Wittenberg provided helped prepare her for her career. In July, she accepted a position as a nurse in the ICU Step Down Unit at Springfield Regional Medical Center.
“My job responsibilities entail caring for patients who are healthy enough to be moved from the ICU but not well enough to be on a normal hospital floor,” she said. “I see a variety of illness and disease daily and love the fast-paced environment. I never know what the day will bring.
“Wittenberg pushed me to be the best me,” she said. “They helped me transition from a teenager to a young adult and gave me more than I could ever ask for. I am so excited to see what my life has planned for me as a nurse, and I am so thankful for the chance to be a part of the Wittenberg community.”
Lyons was among the first students to complete Wittenberg’s Nursing Pathway Program in collaboration with Clark State Community College. Wittenberg announced in July that the university would offer its own four-year, fully self-contained BSN program starting in the fall of 2018. The university has received full approval from the Ohio Board of Nursing, Ohio Department of Higher Education, and Higher Learning Commission for its liberal arts-inspired nursing program.
For more information, visit https://www.wittenberg.edu/news/07-24-18/responding-need-nurses or contact Dr. Elizabeth Sorensen, director and professor of nursing, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-327-7012.
Photo by Unsplash.