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Barton nursing student gets a head start with Senate Bill 155 classes
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Breanna Towers - photo by Story and photo courtesy of BCC

Barton Nursing student, 19-year-old Breanna Towers of St. John, started making strides toward her career during her sophomore year of high school by taking college classes online and her forward thinking made it possible to complete all her pre-requisites before she even set foot in a Barton Nursing classroom.

Towers grew up in a family of nurses. Her mother and father were both nurses and she was able to spend some time with them in the professional world as a youngster. This motivated her to acquire her Certified Nursing Assistant credential at age 16 and she was able to do so at no cost due to Senate Bill 155 (SB155). In between getting her CNA and eventually her Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential, which she acquired at 18, she was told by her counselor that there was a whole list of classes she could take from Barton through its online component BARTonline via SB155.  Dozens of Barton’s career and technical classes, both online and on-site, qualify under the bill’s framework, which means students can take advantage of classes at no cost to them, except textbooks and program fees as applicable. She took almost all of them, including all of her nursing pre-requisites.

“After getting my CNA I was able to work at the facilities in my hometown, and I knew I wanted to go farther with nursing,” she said.

What really drew her to nursing was the inherent goodness she could provide with her knowledge.

“I just like knowing that I’m caring for people in need,” she said. “It just hits home.  I imagine them as my grandparents and what would I want for them. I enjoy being social with my patients and especially the elderly and seeing their smiles or having patients that joke around with you … it just makes your day better and their day better. There are bad days that’s not what you take home. It’s the stuff that makes you feel good to be there.”

At one point Towers was going to high school, working as a CNA and then CMA and taking college courses online at the same time. She had many sources of motivation.

“I was basically pretty crazy,” she said. “I knew how much school would cost and I didn’t want my parents helping me because I knew that sooner or later I’d be out on my own. I wanted it to be just me, so nobody could say ‘oh your parents paid for it all.’ I didn’t want to take for granted the stuff that they’ve done for me already.”

Towers said all the SB155 classes not only saved her money in tuition, but also helped her earn $11,000 in scholarships.

“People that are awarding scholarships see that you’re doing all of these college classes and I think it really helped me earn scholarships,” she said.  “They want to give the money to someone who has a good chance at passing and they know you can handle a lot if you have taken college credits.”

Towers is now in the Licensed Practical Nurse portion of the Barton program and said her hard work has paid off. She will take the Registered Nurse classes next year.

“Not only did it save me a lot of money, but it’s allowed me to focus on just the nursing courses,” she said. “There is less stress on me because of that.”

She said the program is going well and Barton’s program is second to none.

“We get a lot of hands on experience in the classroom,” she said. “It’s nice to learn some of the techniques before you have to try it on a real person.  Then you feel more confident when you go to do something on a real person. They always leave the labs open between classes if we want to go in and practice and not feel so stressed out.”

Towers said the instructors are accessible, professional and work hard to produce quality graduates.

“They are always willing to stay after class and talk to you if you’re stressed out about something,” she said. “And I know it takes a lot for them to do that because we are in the classroom long hours, but they make time for you.”

Director of Nursing and Healthcare Education Dr. Kathy Kottas is proud of where Towers is and where she will go.

“Breanna has worked very hard to get to this point and we are so happy that all of her experiences are paying off for her,” Kottas said.  “We are so excited that she had the foresight to plan her educational track accordingly and has really stuck to her plan.  We are even more excited that she chose to attend Barton.  She is a great student and will be a great nurse very soon.”

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