Lea Ann Kaufman, BSN Student and CHI Excellence in Education Scholarship recipient

For over 30 years, Lea Ann Kaufman has worked in the healthcare industry, primarily as a nurse. For the last 14 years, she has held a position as an Emergency Room Nurse at the Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) ambulatory care facility in Louisville, Kentucky.

After so much time in the same position, excelling at the day-to-day, Lea Ann sought more of a challenge and the possibility of advancement at CHI. So after looking through many online degree programs, she decided to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at WGU.

For a 21st-century student who is somewhat unfamiliar with technology, the thought of attending a 100% online university could be intimidating. "I was afraid and unsure at first, but I am so glad I took the plunge," Lea Ann said of her new-student anxieties.

Of course, the hard work and time necessary to complete an online nursing degree would seem like enough to worry about. But with rising tuition within higher education, affordability is something Lea Ann needed to consider as well. Fortunately, she ended up receiving one of WGU's $2,500 CHI Excellence in Education scholarships. This award, along with the knowledge that all CHI employees receive a 5% discount on WGU's already-low tuition of $6,500 a year for most nursing programs, helped her realize her mission to take on an online degree program.

Learn more about the special opportunities for CHI employees attending WGU »

"The cost is affordable, especially when compared to other institutions, and the time necessary to succeed between 16 and 20 hours a week. Both aspects [are] completely doable and worth every dollar and minute," says Lea Ann.

"In the past year, I have learned how to write an APA-format research paper using Microsoft Word, navigate the web to search for primary research, and take proctored tests using a WGU webcam. These things may seem trivial to some, but for a person who last attended college during the early '80s when personal computers did not exist, my time at WGU has been a wonderful adventure," says Lea Ann.

When asked about her experience at WGU, Lea Ann replied, "I found you are not alone at WGU. My student mentor and course mentor were just an email or call away when I got stuck." Seeking the support of others during a busy and stressful time is not always easy, but having faculty members assigned specifically to help you, it's a lot easier to ask— and when they actually want to help you, that's even better.

Talking about the future, Lea Ann informs us that "the degree fulfills a lifelong dream for me." She emphasizes that it's never too late. "Age should not be a barrier to learning. The wind is at my back, and a master's degree in Nursing Education is within my reach!"

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