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Kathy and Stacie Cowman- OCC Nursing Program Graduates

Stacie Cowman knew she wanted to continue her education after earning her associate’s degree in nursing from Olney Central College in May 2014. As Stacie prepared to begin her BSN classes that fall she found an unlikely classmate, her mother, Kathy Cowman.

“I started several years ago working on the support classes, but I put off the nursing classes,” said Kathy, who also graduated from OCC with an associate’s degree in nursing. “With Stacie working on her bachelor’s degree, I decided it was a good time to go back.”

The mother and daughter received their bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in December. “It was nice having someone to go through it with you, to double check the assignments with and hold you accountable,” Stacie said.

Kathy agrees. “Stacie was a great support person and a huge help with the computer side of it. All of the classes were 100 percent online. It is an advantage being able to work whenever you want, but you have to be structured and disciplined when you’re not going to classes and you have to keep up on your own. I felt like I needed to keep going to set a good example for Stacie and finish up.”

Kathy has been employed at Richland Memorial Hospital in Olney since graduating from OCC. She worked 18 years in obstetrics as a unit staff nurse, a charge nurse and manager. She has been in the operating room for 12 years and currently serves as the manager of same day surgery, central supply, GI Lab and the operating room.

“I really enjoy getting to make a difference in people’s lives and helping them recover from injuries,” she said.

Watching her mother assisting others inspired Stacie to enter the nursing field. “If any of us were sick or she came up on an accident, she would always know what to do,” Stacie said. “I started working as a nurses’ aide and found I really enjoyed working with people too.”

Stacie currently serves as a BSN in the emergency room at Richland Memorial.  “Working in the ER, there is the thrill of not knowing what is going to walk through the door,” she said. “You can have a person with a cough or someone that has to be shipped out. In the ER, you are at the beginning of the process. You can see how sick people can be and what you can do to make them better.”

Both Kathy and Stacie are glad they chose to begin their careers at OCC.  “I felt like the nursing program was very personable,” Stacie said. “The teachers were all willing to help me if I had a question on my care plan or a test coming up. They all took the time to sit down and make sure I really got it. Also, I felt like during clinicals, since it was a smaller class, I was able to get more hands-on experience because there were fewer people.”

Kathy said OCC’s nursing classes are excellent at preparing students to take their state boards.
“OCC’s nursing program has a high passing rate,” she added. “I think that says a lot about the curriculum.”

In high school, Stacie considered attending a four-year university, but is glad she selected OCC instead.  “Advice I’d give to graduating seniors is that you really need to sit down and compare the advantages and disadvantages between a four-year university and a community college like OCC,” she said. “I was afraid I might be missing out on the college experience if I didn’t go away somewhere, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s really overrated. OCC is a lot more accessible and affordable. I graduated and earned my degree from OCC debt-free.”


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