Graduate Success Stories: Suzette Astell-Richardson

2017, Master of Science in Nursing with a Family Nurse Practitioner focus

Suzette Astell-Richardson wearing cap and gown holding a diploma

Suzette Astell-Richardson lives in Danville, Illinois. A practicing registered nurse for more than a quarter century, Suzette decided to go back to school, enrolling in Kaplan University in 2014 to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a family nurse practitioner focus.

“I’d been a nurse for over 25 years when I entered the program. I do a lot of hands-on and educational things with patients, and I realized that patients needed a stronger voice.”

Married with three adult children and six grandchildren, Suzette chose Kaplan University because it afforded her the flexibility she needed.

“I worked 12-hour shifts, so I could attend classes online any time of the morning, afternoon, or evening. It gave me a lot of time where I could plug in. If I was busy, I could take the computer with me and do all of those things. It’s great for adult learning because we have so many commitments in our life.”

She credits the university’s faculty for helping her make it over the finish line.

“It was wonderful because I had the support of the professors who understood the trials and tribulations that I went through and how hard it is to juggle not only marriage, full-time work, grandkids, adult children, and just all of the things that happen in daily life. It was great.”

Suzette also found that while the learning modality was online, she also gained a lot of hands-on experience out in the field.

“I did a lot of clinical time, and the clinical time was in my area. Kaplan University is very supportive of the hands-on time and the clinical rotations. It just not only worked well in my situation, but gave me a lot of experience that I did not have as a nurse of over 20 years.”

Suzette graduated in 2017 and plans to switch careers within the nursing profession as a family nurse practitioner.

“The impact that it’s made (earning her degree) has given me the courage to take another step forward, more advocacy for the patients, and certainly help fill the need because Americans are faced with a shortage of physicians. The mid-level provider is a very important and instrumental part of the health care shortage. I expect to be very instrumental within that role and to help other Americans who absolutely need the support of a mid-level provider.”