“I actually graduated college when my son graduated high school.” That couldn’t have been scripted any better for Maryville Online graduate Brenda Dinges, considering her desire to become a nurse came when she almost lost her then 12-year-old son to diabetes.
Since that time, Brenda has worked as an ER nurse and manager — but she wanted to be more of a decision-maker in the medical field. That’s when she made the brave choice to become a nurse practitioner.
It’s been quite a trek for Brenda. Home is a small town in western Kansas, where the nearest Walmart is more than an hour away. There, she and her husband own and operate a fairly large farm.
“We have a 450 cow-calf operation, and we also put out quite a bit of grains and also put up alfalfa,” she says.
Although the kids are in college, her nursing career and being the wife of a farmer always kept Brenda fully occupied. The only way she could earn her master’s and take the next step in her career was to do it online.
One of her really good friends had graduated from Maryville’s online Master of Science in Nursing program and encouraged her to follow her dream.
It has to work around life — and Maryville does
In 2019, Brenda graduated from Maryville with her MSN with a Family Nurse Practitioner concentration. The fact that the program featured 100% online coursework was the key for her.
Other programs required campus visits, which just wasn’t logistically possible for her intense schedule — or her remote location. She was excited to find that Maryville could help her reach her goal around her life responsibilities.
Brenda says she found that her online education was as thorough and rewarding as an on-campus program would have been.
“With online schooling versus the brick and mortar schools, the information is still the same,” she says. “Just because you’re inside of four walls doesn’t mean you’re getting a better education. It really doesn’t.”
With online schooling versus the brick and mortar schools, the information is still the same. Just because you’re inside of four walls doesn’t mean you’re getting a better education. It really doesn’t.
Online doesn’t mean out of touch
Even though Brenda lives way out “yonder” in western Kansas, she was still able to feel connected with her classmates. In fact, that’s still true even after graduation.
“We actually have a fantastic Facebook group that some of the students have made their way onto,” she says. “I’ve been pretty involved with it. We’ve supported each other through good and bad.”
In fact, at graduation, a few girls were standing with Brenda waiting for family members when they realized they’d all been in class together. Because they had connected so much online, it became a bit like a reunion.
Leaving a legacy
For Brenda, earning her MSN-FNP wasn’t just about getting a degree or a pay raise.
It was about moving into the next phase of her passion and becoming a nurse practitioner. She saw it as her chance to have a more autonomous role that allows her to make a larger impact in patient care.
“To me, it means being able to provide good quality care to people,” she says. “I feel very passionately about that. I want to make a difference, and I want to leave the world a better place when I’m gone. This accomplishes that goal.”
Be brave enough to go get it
For Brenda, being brave is about being fearless in taking on the unknown. Maryville gave her the vehicle to be able to take her next bold step — to continue following her passion — in a way that worked for her life.
She’ll also be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy, and it’s safe to say her husband would agree.
“He lived on chicken nuggets for three years,” she says, “so he’s glad to see me cook dinner again.”
Brenda has some advice for anyone who might be thinking about taking their own brave step:
“If you really want it, go for it. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not smart enough or good enough to do so.”
If you’re ready to see how Maryville Online can help you be brave and pursue your educational and professional goals, we’re here for you. Check out our online bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees, or schedule a call with an advisor today.
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