One draw for Southern Arkansas University is the family-like atmosphere, and there is no better example of this characteristic that what non-traditional nursing student Deanna Sirmans has experienced.
Sirmans, 41, has many obstacles that she could allow to keep her from becoming a registered nurse through the SAU Nursing Department. Her husband is a double amputee. She commutes more than an hour one-way. She homeschools her daughter, Grace, and did the same for her eldest, Charline, 18. Despite any of these possible road blocks to her educational and career goals, Sirmans keeps her chin up with the strong support of her biological family and her SAU family.
In the winter of 2012, as Sirmans was in her first semester and meeting with her Friday night clinical group, her situation was looking bleak. The holidays were nearing and the bills were piling up. This group of nine nursing students came together to help.
“I cried for a week as the gifts kept coming in,” said Sirmans. “They rallied together and helped support me and my family during a difficult time. Their assistance included monetary donations, prayer and friendship, for which I will be forever grateful.”
Her daughter, Grace, also was moved by the group’s generosity.
“The coolest thing was that me and my sister got iPod Touches from them for Christmas,” she said. “We cried a lot too.”
Grace takes after her mother with respect to academic motivation. She is slated to complete her high school studies at age 16. She has enjoyed tagging along with her mother, who is a student worker in the Biology Department at SAU. She wants to study microbiology and culinary arts in college so that she can incorporate science into her catering business someday.
“I am glad my mom went back to school because she has wanted her RN since she got her LPN,” said Grace. “It’s just been harder on the family. We all have to pitch in more around the house.”