Valerie Stauffer is a nursing student who started at Ivy Tech more than 15 years ago. Last summer, she came back to finish.
What made you take that 15-plus-year break?
I was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease. It affected my general health, and I couldn’t keep up. My husband encouraged me to come back. He was very supportive and said, “You get your nursing degree, and I’ll take care of everything at the house.” He’s my biggest cheerleader. I have three kids. They get shuttled around to different sporting events and obligations. My studies come before cooking dinner or taking the kid to wrestling, taking the kid to basketball.
What is Lyme disease?
It’s from a tick bite and prevalent in Indiana. It can be cured if caught early enough. Left untreated, it will infiltrate the body and weaken immune system. I’ll always have it.
Why did you choose Ivy Tech?
I chose Ivy Tech in 2002 because I could work full-time and go to classes in the evenings. I carried straight A’s. Now, I needed something that was close enough to home that I could get on and off campus easily. The flexibility is helpful, too. I can get to buildings I need for WiFi access. I like the fact that it’s smaller than other colleges.
You’re pretty active on Twitter in relation to your schooling. What about it appeals to you?
I’m an older student. I have kids that are the ages of some of these other students, and I find it an interesting dynamic because I can relate to them as a parent, but I can also relate to them as a classmate. A lot of them have social media presences. I don’t feel like the older generation is as obvious on social media. I just kind of tweet goofy stuff. The first week back at school, I tweeted something to the effect of “Everybody is always dressed up on the first week of school. By week four, they can’t even match their socks.” I tweet thoughts about school with the hashtag #workingforthegpa.
What kind of feedback do you get?
People will ask, “Have you put anything out recently? Come on. You’re getting quiet.” I feel like I’m generally supported by classmates and my non-classmate friends outside of school. They like following my perspective.”
What are your after-Ivy Tech goals?
If everything goes well, I should graduate by May or December of 2019. I want to work for a little bit in the field before I go back and get my bachelor’s degree. I really want to be a surgical nurse or an ER nurse. In the ER, you have an immediate impact on somebody’s health right then and there.
Follow Valerie on Twitter @coachstauffer16.