Feb 05, 2013

Scruggs: I Can Do This - Nursing Is For Me

Columbia State's Williamson County Campus Helps Nursing Student Chiyoko Scruggs Handle Busy Life Change

"It's hard," says Williamson County Campus second semester nursing student Chiyoko Scruggs in regards to the coursework and class schedule of Columbia State's Nursing Program. "But it's absolutely worth it, and the instructors, staff and fellow students make me want to show up every day and do my best."

Two other main reasons why Scruggs shows up and does her best every day are her children - son Brandon (14) and daughter Sydney (10). After going through a divorce in 2004, Scruggs - who lives in Antioch - decided to change careers for a second time. She was a real estate agent caught in a declining market, after a previous career as a case worker with the State of Tennessee, and suddenly needed to be the main provider for her family.

"A friend of mine told me about the nursing profession, and the respectable salaries that can be made in that field," she said. "I have always had a love and passion for helping people in need, so things just fell into place when I found out about Columbia State's program in Williamson County."

Scruggs was selling houses at the time, and one potential buyer peaked her interest in the nursing profession. Scruggs took the advice to heart and began researching various nursing schools in the area. She found that Columbia State's nursing program was the best fit for her, and decided to take the next step. Scruggs - who at the time already had a bachelor's degree in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University - applied in August of 2007, and less than a year later, started at Columbia State.

"Since I already had my degree, I didn't qualify for certain grants, but Columbia State's new payment plan works very well for many traditional and non-traditional students, and I've been able to pay for school with student loans and have received a nursing scholarship for the Spring 2009 semester. The Nursing department is really good at notifying us of scholarship opportunities."

For Scruggs, a single mother of two, this is extremely important, because there has been no way for her to earn consistent income while taking a full load of classes. "I now spend all my time in class or studying," says Scruggs. "Literally all of my free time is dedicated to my coursework."

There is no doubt in her mind though, that this experience will pay off, big time.

"This is a win-win situation," she says. "Not only will I be helping people, but I'll also be able to provide for my family."

While Scruggs says the faculty, staff and programs at Columbia State make going back to school very welcoming, she admits that nursing as a profession probably isn't for everyone. "First of all, if I had a chance to go back and do college all over again, I would have definitely come to Columbia State for my first two years, and then transferred onto MTSU. I would have garnered the same exact credits that I needed towards my bachelor's, but at half the price. I've taken a lot of courses over the years and nursing courses are different from any of the others. They are extremely challenging."

While Scruggs isn't shy talking about the commitment level it takes to learn how to become a nurse, she also mentions that it takes some serious intangibles as well.

"You have to be patient, eager to learn, and you have to love helping people," she says. "When my mom suffered serious injuries in 2002, I was at her side and learned from the nurses how to dress her wounds and give her shots. At that time, the nurses and doctors would compliment me on the job I did, so when faced with an interesting challenge now, I always revert back to those memories and tell myself - I can do this; this is for me."

Scruggs plans on getting a job right away upon completion of her nursing degree in May 2010. Maybe then she can finally also spend some real quality time with Brandon, who is a member of the Chess Club at Cane Ridge High, and Sydney, who loves dance and attends Maxwell Elementary School.