A Journey to an Associate Degree in Nursing: Comfort Ekeoha’s Story of Resilience and Community

Comfort Ekeoha began the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program at Carrington College in February of 2023; she had recently moved back to Albuquerque to be closer to her family. Comfort found another close-knit family in the nursing program—classmates who supported and motivated each other as they learned together. Shawna Cunningham, Director of Enrollment Services, nominated Comfort for the student spotlight. “Comfort has a positive attitude every day, in and out of class,” Shawna says. “She is focused and supportive to others, staying after class to help fellow classmates get a better understanding of assignments.” Here, Comfort shares more about her experience in the ADN program, along with helpful advice for new students.  

What did you do before enrolling in the ADN program?

I had started a nursing program at Texas Tech (first level) but then had a health issue, and I moved home with my parents so they could help me. I started taking classes online after I recovered because I wanted to go to a nearby community college, but then I changed my mind when I looked into the ADN program at Carrington.

What made you want to study nursing? Were you inspired or influenced by anyone?

A little bit of it all runs in my family; I have a lot of family members in the healthcare field. My grandmother made a big impact on me because she was a midwife, and my aunt was also a midwife and a nurse. Growing up, I got to go to work with her sometimes and see the impact she had made, how she helped so many families. My own goal right now is to become a labor and delivery nurse, and to eventually get my master’s degree in nursing to become a midwife.

What has been your favorite part of the ADN program at Carrington College?

When I decided to go back to school, it was mainly because I wanted to be part of a smaller community. Schools like Central New Mexico Community College and University of New Mexico are so competitive, with a lot of students in each level; personally, I like my cohort to be smaller, and that’s what Carrington College here in Albuquerque offers—I love it. The smaller community has helped me form a close relationship with my fellow classmates as well as the professors. That’s my favorite part about the program—and it was one of the main reasons I chose Carrington.

What has been the most challenging part of the program?

The exams have been the most challenging part for me so far. I recently took my Medication Administration Proficiency Exam (MAPEs), and students needed to score 100 percent. For my pharmacology dosing exam, we needed to score 90 percent or above. I suffer from text anxiety, and it can be more challenging to take exams because I start to mix up the information. One of my professors has given me helpful tips on how to manage my anxiety. Through it all, I’ve learned how to better manage my time, especially when it comes to studying. I’m learning to prioritize and not to put things off.  And even though I understand it—it’s the anxiety that makes everything change. I have gotten really close to two of my classmates, we are here at school until 10 p.m. at least three times a week, studying together. It’s great because we help each other understand the material. We try to explain it to each other, we read it out loud to interpret it, and it helps us all learn.

Do you have any words of advice for a person who is just starting the program?  

Find your people to form study groups with. I would have been so lost without them! Even a great professor might explain things in a way that you don’t understand compared with how a classmate could explain it. Keep the study group small, not more than four people. I would also say that the program is challenging, but if you put in the work and give it your best shot, you’ll succeed. There will be other students with the same questions as you—just know that and don’t be nervous to ask. There are no dumb questions in the nursing program; we are all learning and trying to understand the material. I think that a lot of students struggle with asking professors for help—just remember that teachers want to help you succeed in the program, so take advantage of that and let them help you. One more piece of advice is this: Practice self-care! That’s such a big thing. I have a support system in my family, my parents. My mom is a nurse herself, so she knows how important self-care is. Take lots of study breaks: Study 30 minutes on and ten minutes off, so you give yourself time to digest that information. Have a snack and drink plenty of fluids. It can be intense, and you can forget to eat or drink water. Some people put a timer on to remind themselves to take breaks. Find time for you. Take a day or half a day to do something you like. Walk or hike; we have mountains here and I go hiking every chance I get. When we study, we sit for hours at a time so remember to get up, bring a friend or family member, and keep your body moving.

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