Tiffany O’Connor has let nothing stand in the way of
achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse.
The Fort Gratiot native and 2013 SC4 graduate works as a
registered nurse in oncology at Huron Medical Center P.C., and is three months
away from completing her bachelor of science in nursing through University of
The road to her dreams, however, was not an easy one.
“I think the biggest part of my journey is I was a single mom
going through this by myself; I didn’t have child support or the every other
weekends, I mean I was a single mom,” she said. “My biggest thing was taking
time away from my child, but I had to do it in order to provide a better life
for him and to give him a good example of hard work.”
O’Connor’s journey began after she graduated from Port Huron
Northern in 2004 and decided to join the Navy.
“A lot of my family members have served, that was part of
why I joined,” she said. “The other was the experience because I knew it would
make me a better human being and adult. I went in with the intention of staying
in forever but I knew should I choose to get out there would be a lot of great
O’Connor said she spent four years in the military, a year
of that deployed in the Middle East. It was an experience she feels has helped
her as a nurse.
“It was an experience and one I would never take back,” she
said. “I’ve seen so many places and it makes you more sensitive to specific
situations as a nurse when you talk about culture. It helps develop teamwork,
attention to detail and accountability and it overall made me a better nurse.”
After returning home, O’Connor decided to go into nursing, a
career she had always dreamt about pursuing. Because of its location and
reputation, O’Connor chose to attend SC4.
“I heard so many good things about SC4’s nursing program,
why would I go anywhere else?” she said. “If I was going to get an associate
degree from a junior college, this is the one I wanted to get it from.”
After completing the prerequisite courses, O’Connor applied
to the nursing program and got in on the first try.
“I’ll never forget where I was and what I was doing when I
opened the letter, “she said. “I was in my apartment and I called my mom and
said, ‘The letter is here. This is really happening; you’re going to do this.’
I was excited and nervous.”
Before she graduated with honors, O’Connor said she was
offered a nurse internship position at McLaren Hospital of Port Huron, and was
later hired in full-time after passing her boards. She worked at the hospital
for a year and a half before she accepted a part-time position at Huron Medical
Center PC working in oncology.
“I remained full time at the hospital and part time at the
office because I needed the benefits,” she said. “I was doing three 12-hour shifts
and then working 8 to 10 hours a week at the office. It was rough.”
But O’Connor was determined to work in oncology and it
wasn’t long before a full time position opened up.
“Oncology was always something I was fascinated by because
it’s always changing and there is so much advancement in that area,” she said.
“I wanted to work with patients who are in that position, and I wanted to be
there for that treatment to make them smile. My job is done if I can make their
O’Connor said in her position she is tasked with anything
from helping patients find necessary resources to mixing and administering
“We also provide emotional support for the family and
patients,” she said. “It’s is a journey for sure and we become like an extended
family member because some of our patients are there five days a week. We get
very attached to our people.”
O’Connor said SC4 prepared her and gave her the necessary
tools to be an effective nurse.
“I have talked to other people who went to Macomb Community
College or Oakland University for a BSN and I feel SC4 did a better job in
their associate program than they did in their BSN programs,” O’Connor said.
“The most important thing of the degree is being hands-on, and SC4 provided
Her advice to students?
“Take it one week at a time and plug on,” she said. “It
looks intimidating when you are starting out but you have to keep at it. SC4 is
so full of resources that people just don’t use. They told me, ‘Don’t work during
the nursing program,’ well I had to work, so I worked and tutored and I was a
single mom. Don’t make excuses, you can do it and you will look back and be so
proud. There will be no better gratification.”