As a fulltime working nurse, Sharon Rey-Barreau needed an accredited program that would work with her schedule. “The online classes gave me the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree while also honoring other commitments,” explained the RN-BSN graduate who lives in Lexington, Kentucky
“The flexibility of EKU’s online program and the positive feedback from nursing peers who had completed degrees through EKU were the two biggest factors in my choice to pursue my degree at EKU,” she said.
She is grateful for the support she received from her family throughout the process.“There were journal articles covering every available table, designated ‘quiet zones’ when I needed to videoconference for group projects, and Kentucky health statistics quoted at every available opportunity,” she laughed remembering how they took it all in stride.
Faculty and staff were also there to help when she needed it. “Whether you need clarification about an assignment, help with new technology, or guidance on professional research writing, EKU has exactly the person you need, just a mouse click away!” she said.
As an EKU Online student, Sharon was part of an academic community. Her classmates challenged and encouraged her. They were able to learn from one another, as well as from their instructors. “My nursing peers from across the region offered a wide variety of life experiences and patient care concerns,” said Sharon.
One course that made a lasting impression on Sharon was Community Health. “During the group project some of us headed out into neighborhoods all across the Commonwealth looking for key elements which help to make a community healthy, and documenting what we found. These included basic things such as sidewalks, a grocery store with fresh produce, safe play areas for children and even trees. I thought I knew my city pretty well, but I was surprised at the disparities I found. I hope to be able to use what I’ve learned to advocate for improvements in community health and outreach,” she said.
Dr. Fontaine Sands is the program’s coordinator, nominated Sharon for the 2017 EKU Online Outstanding Student Award because of her leadership and professionalism. “She took on roles in multiple courses that required collaboration and communication for team projects. She even supported her fellow students by voluntarily answering their questions. She’s truly a standout!”” Dr. Sands wrote in her nomination.
Shortly after graduation, Sharon received a sought-after internship with an area hospital and then received two job offers in her chosen specialty. She is considering returning to EKU to advance to an FNP role in psychiatric mental health.
She is thrilled to have a new position in her chosen specialty. “I enjoy advocacy and education, talking with people about how our mental health impacts everyday life, and working to reduce the stigma that society and even our own family members may attach to a mental health diagnosis,” she said.
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