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IU Northwest News

Celebrating the Class of 2015: Linda Parker

A new career at 54, a mom facing an empty nest to join nursing profession

Monday Apr 13, 2015

Linda Parker, 54, of Demotte, Ind., graduates this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.

Parker had never gone to college before enrolling at Indiana University Northwest in 2009. She had worked at her son’s school as a teacher’s aide for 11 years. Once he got into high school, and she was beginning to think about her impending empty nest, Parker began longing for another career.

“I thought, ‘What can get me a job?’” she said, “but more importantly, as I considered nursing as a new career, I thought of myself as a patient. I always had awesome nurses. I thought maybe I can make a difference for somebody.”

So about the same time her son, Sam Parker, went off to college at IU Northwest, Linda wasn’t far behind.

This brought to mind a funny memory. Parker recalled that Sam, now an IUPD-NW police officer, once asked his mom when he was a young child if she could quit her job at his school and go work at his new school. His dad had chuckled, “Oh Sam, do you want your mom to go to college with you?”

Recalling this, Parker quipped, “’How funny. I did go to college with my son.’ ”

The pair didn’t share any classes together, exactly, but they did have some of the same classes with the same professors and assignments at separate times. Sam Parker earned his associate’s degree from IU Northwest in 2012.

In total, the journey took Parker six years, attending part-time in the evenings and summer to get through her prerequisites.

“This is what it took to get the grades to get into nursing school,” said Parker, who eventually quit her day job to attend school full-time once she was accepted into the nursing program.

“It is hard. I study quite a bit,” Parker said, “But, it’s do-able. I appreciate my other nursing students. They treat me as an equal. I participate in study groups and things like that. It is fun but in the next breath, I think, ‘they are in the same generation as my son.’”

She admits this was unnerving at first, attending classes with students her son’s age.

“Stick with it. Never say never. Keep a positive attitude. I have a morning mantra, ‘I can do it.’”

Parker is not quite sure if she wants to seek a nursing specialty but she is thinking about oncology. She has seen a lot of family members go through cancer. She would like to help make a difference for those patients.

“Nursing school is challenging. It’s difficult. It’s stressful,” Parker says in reflection. “But you can do it with an awful lot of hard work. I am excited to see that the end is so close now. These last three years of nursing school have really flown by.”

About the Class of 2015: Indiana University Northwest will confer 790 degrees at the 49th Annual Commencement ceremonies on May 14, 2015. The Class of 2015 will collectively receive 75 associate’s degrees, 609 bachelor’s degrees and 106 master’s degrees. Seventy-three percent of this year’s graduating class are women; nearly 40 percent are underrepresented students.

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