Nontraditional Student Pursues Future in Nursing for her Daughter’s Sake

Sarah Brugmann is a self-described “people person” from Mantua who has always wanted to be a nurse. Her own mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) even before Sarah was born. Since Sarah — along with her dad and sister — has been a caregiver for her mother for the past 15 years, this has greatly influenced her decision to pursue a future in nursing.

Having worked as a home healthcare provider and as a nurse’s aide, Sarah is a first-year nursing student, initially pursuing an associate’s degree in the short term; a bachelor’s and maybe a master’s degree in the long term. At age 26 and a single mother, Sarah is considered a nontraditional student. She had attended Kent State’s Kent campus seven years ago, but she dropped out to keep working as a night shift nurse’s aide. Now that she is a mother, she is motivated to return to college so she can better provide for her daughter.

“Now,” she says, “I am ready for school and I’m enjoying Kent State Geauga and the Regional Academic Center with their smaller classes, increased interactions with professors and students, and the ability to meet so many more people. I know that sounds ironic since there are so many more students at Kent State Kent campus, but how do you get to know anyone in a lecture hall with 150 students? Besides, it’s 40 percent cheaper to get my education here. I’ll take it!”

Sarah acknowledges that the nursing program is difficult, but the support she receives from her professors helps her move forward. Anatomy and Physiology professor Daniela Popescu, M.D., Ph.D., has been especially helpful, Sarah says. “She is very easy to talk to and she answers my every question.”  

Even beyond the classroom, Dr. Popescu has shared resources from her MS research through the Cleveland Clinic to support Sarah’s mother as she navigates the symptoms of MS. “She has gone out of her way to help me and my family, whether it be an educational article or just being someone I can talk to who understands the disease!” Sarah says.

In addition to her dedication as a mother and a student, Sarah is also committed to leadership within the student body. She serves as vice president of the Kent Sate Geauga Student Government at the Regional Academic Center, she is a student advocate within the Wellness Student Organization (The Wellness Club), and she is an active member of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). In addition, Sarah is a student worker, assisting Dean Spalsbury and the Kent State Geauga communications and marketing department.

“I am busy all the time!” Sarah admits. “I never stop moving and it is definitely a struggle to manage my time. But thankfully, I get support from family and friends who have helped me a great deal, watching my daughter on the weekends so I can get in study time. Also, being qualified for free childcare through the state, my daughter is at daycare during the week. Two years ago, before I started back to school, I was a bank teller and struggled to make ends meet. I knew I had to make a change.” 

That was then. This is now. “Now I can go to school and reach for my goal to become an oncology, intensive care or hospice nurse,” Sarah says. “My options are endless. Now I am really moving forward!”