What differentiated Katie Adams as a Yavapai College nursing student was the fact she was raising three children, expecting a fourth and nursing was never a career dream.

Rather, Katie subjected herself and her family to the rigors of nursing school for practical reasons – to give her children a home of their own and have the means to fulfill their basic needs. “I liked the idea of helping people, too. But I knew that I absolutely had to do this if I ever want my kids to have new clothes.”

Ten years later, what differentiates Katie as a YC nursing instructor is when she tells her students to believe in themselves--when she says “you’re going to make it” and asserts, “If I can do it you can do it, too,”--the messages carry weight. “I have empathy for what they’re going through,” she said.

The opportunity to coach and inspire future nurses, regardless of their reasons for being in school or the life journeys that led them there, prompted Katie to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees. So, when an instructor position opened at the YC Verde Valley campus, she was qualified to apply.

“I’m really passionate about education, especially for women. I want to see them in a position to take care of themselves.” Nursing school, she said, “is such a great investment in yourself.”

Depending on someone else led Katie down difficult roads through such circumstances as a dismal childhood, a teenage marriage and poverty. When the GED earner was doing whatever she could to provide for her children after moving to the Verde Valley from Oregon, she started investigating higher education. “I wanted to do something to better my kids’ lives. I wanted to be able to give them everything that I never had.”

Katie found no barriers to attending Yavapai College. She took the nursing placement test and began plugging away at program prerequisites as well as Certified Nursing Assistant and Licensed Practical Nurse certifications so that she could work in healthcare while in school. She found that she loved learning and the variety of disciplines covered in nursing school.

With hard work, discipline, and lots of video games to entertain her kids, she was beating the odds. But then, in her fourth and final semester, Katie found herself fighting for her nursing school life while caring for an infant son and her cancer-stricken mother. She had failed to earn the required minimum score on a couple of tests. Told in a face-to-face meeting with the school’s dean that she should consider taking a semester off, Katie simply replied: “That’s not going to happen.”

It didn’t happen. Katie graduated, passed her state boards and immediately started practicing her profession in the community. She quickly bought a house, too. “My parents never owned a home their whole lives,” she said.

Katie fondly recalls her nursing student days at Yavapai College. She said she enjoyed the journey, despite the struggles, and pursued nursing education to help make the journey enjoyable for others. “I love our program and I think we try very hard to prepare students for life and prepare them to take their boards.”

“On a small campus,” Katie added, “you get to know all the students and I really enjoy getting to encourage them.”

Katie’s encouragement is flavored with some ingredients from her personal journey, including her certainty that neither intelligence nor stellar grades alone guarantee a nursing degree. Instead, Katie makes sure that all of her students know the only guarantee is the sheer will to succeed. “You’ve got to figure out for yourself where you can fit it in—the sacrifice—and make it,” she said.