Pamela Wooldridge is the first person in her family to graduate from college—something she has done three times now, including a Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2017 from Kaplan University.
“Being the first one in my family to graduate college just made me want to go to the top of the mountain. There's nowhere else to go. I’ve done all I can do in degrees in nursing, and I wanted to be at the top. I love school. I just didn’t want to stop. So now I’m here.”
It’s been a long journey for Pamela, 30 years in the making.
“With my first hospital job, my now 30-year-old son was nine months old. I started out making $4.50 an hour, and God has blessed me to quadruple that 15 times over, to take care of my family, to be the first one who graduates from college, much less a doctorate. All of my family is cheering for me.”
For many years, moving ahead professionally was challenging for Pamela without an advanced degree.
“I had the experience. I needed the credentials to match it. The degrees and the credentials put a stamp on it.”
Today, Pamela is a nurse manager of a busy psychiatric unit in Richmond, Virginia.
“My primary unit is in Richmond. It’s a 40-bed unit. My other unit is smaller, with about 8 beds. Day to day, I have team leads and very highly motivated people. I empower them to work, so I don’t have to be micromanaging grown people. Because of the nature of the people who we deal with, my day could be in my office doing paperwork to out here helping somebody medicate a patient who’s experiencing some aggression. It runs the gamut. I supervise a total of about 80 people.”
Pamela’s advice to others thinking about going back to school is straightforward.
“You have to decide what your priority is. Time is going to pass. You can always make mistakes. Three years is going to pass. You’re either going to be standing over here wishing you had done it or you’re going to be done like I am. Just do it. Kaplan University was an excellent program. I had excellent teachers all along the way, excellent from the financial staff, too—it’s been an awesome program.”