With a lifetime of trials crammed into a few months, Courtney Ramsey is the epitome of endurance. When her 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with severe scoliosis during the most restrictive COVID regulations, Courtney balanced taking care of her family and attending nursing school. She credits the PCC Southwest faculty for going above and beyond to ensure her success.
Courtney’s journey with PCC Southwest began in 2019 when she met with our director of student success, Lisa Molina. After a seamless transfer of credits, she started classes less than a month later.
“Location was key for me coming to PCC,” she said. “It’s only a few minutes from my house. I asked around among my friends and acquaintances and people said good things about it. But what really drew me in were the small class sizes. I have five people in my class today and it’s been great to better connect with both my classmates and instructors.”
In August of 2020, Courtney’s oldest daughter received her diagnosis. With a severe curvature in her spine, a brace wasn’t an option. After multiple trips to Colorado Springs for consults, an MRI, and lab work with the pediatric orthopedic surgeon, a surgery date was set for Jan. 4, 2021.
In addition to navigating her daughter’s needs and taking care of the rest of her family, Courtney was managing COVID restrictions and adapting to PCC’s transfer to an online learning environment.
“It was just so much. But if I can make it through nursing school, my daughter’s major back surgery, and COVID, I can make it through anything,”.
The instructors and faculty at PCC Southwest were instrumental in Courtney’s ability to stay in the nursing program while she was taking care of her daughter’s medical needs. She knows students from other universities who have been politely excused from programs because of family circumstances that cause them to miss classes. That was not the case with PCC Southwest. Lyn O’Brien, one of our nursing faculty, helped her examine X-rays and mentally prepare for what the surgery would entail. Michelina Paulek, our Nursing program coordinator, helped Courtney find ways she could make up for any missed clinical days. Nursing instructor Kevin Gross, upon hearing about her situation, didn’t bat an eye.
“He said, ‘You go take care of your daughter. That is the most important thing,’” said Courtney.
When she returned from post-op appointments, she was able to shadow him in the ER at San Juan Regional Medical Center in order to make up for the classes she had missed, which she describes as an incredible experience.
“Again I say let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed,” wrote Abraham Lincoln. Courtney’s daughter is back home now after a successful 3-hour surgery and is recovering well. Despite having an abundance of metal in her body, she’s almost back to her activity level before surgery.
And Courtney? She’s thriving. With only a handful of weeks remaining until she receives her associate degree in Nursing, she hopes to work in a nursing field for a year or two and then return to PCC to pursue her bachelor’s degree. To all the current and future nursing students, she says, “Don’t give up. You’re going to feel overwhelmed and want to sit in your car and cry. You’re going to feel the stress all the way from orientation to the day you graduate. Don’t let life hurdles throw you off track.”