Thatcher, AZ – Katelynn Claridge is working toward becoming a registered nurse after years of being a caregiver for her grandmother, who has rheumatoid arthritis.
Katelynn explains, “My grandma’s arthritis is very severe, and as of now she can only walk with assistance from my grandpa. So, when I was a little kid I would go over to their house and help her make meals, help give her a shower and get her dressed, and whatever else she needed. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing everything to be a nurse. And, that’s how I learned that I wanted to be a nurse, when I look back at it, it’s like it was meant to be.”
Katelynn, age 20, was born in Safford, Arizona and raised in Duncan, located in the Southeastern part of the state near the border with New Mexico. Katelynn graduated Valedictorian from Duncan High School, and she now attends Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, where she’s pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
In addition to Eastern Arizona College, Katelynn is also enrolled at Arizona State University:
“I’m actually doing my associate’s and bachelor degrees at the same time. I attend Eastern Arizona College and ASU in a concurrent bachelor’s program in nursing, so that I can complete my associate’s degree and bachelor’s (degree) in nursing at the same time. Basically, I can graduate in less than four years, because the concurrent program runs year-round.”
Katelynn says she is enjoying nursing school, “It’s really cool being able to put the pieces together that you learn in class and in a clinical setting, and to just be able to realize how it all comes together – what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And, it’s just awesome when you get that ‘lightbulb feeling” when everything clicks in and makes sense.”
Meanwhile, Katelynn is among the hundreds of high potential students from low income circumstances who have earned scholarships from College Success Arizona, which provide up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, “Because I’m doing the concurrent program, it’s awesome that I can get my education and my degree done faster, but it’s also stressful having a double workload and even more stressful having a double financial load. My biggest help has been College Success Arizona. They are very easy to work with, and they have provided me with the financial assistance that I need to continue with school and get my degree.”
The scholarship also provides students with specialized mentoring services through a team of skilled Success Advisers. Matt Sotelo is Katelynn’s adviser, “Since I live so far away from Phoenix, it’s been difficult to attend different workshops and events that College Success Arizona holds in Phoenix. Thankfully, Matt has always been sure to include me in emails about the different workshops and events. He would also come down from Phoenix and meet with me in person and we would talk, and visit, and go over anything that I needed homework-wise, school-wise, life-wise – anything like that he was very open about. And, we also do phone calls on occasion to check up on each other, and it seems like we’re always emailing. It’s really awesome to have a support system for any questions I may have, and it’s also awesome that someone cares about how good you’re doing in school, or if you need help.”
For middle and high school students considering their own possible path to college, Katelynn says, “Just go for it!’ College can seem hard and there’s a bunch of little things that can get in the way, such as money, but it’ll always find a way to work itself out. There will always be someone there that wants to help you get through college and get your degree. You’ll never regret having a higher education.”
Since 2005, College Success Arizona has worked with nearly 1,300 students, and provided more than 16 million dollars in scholarships and success services to help increase the college attainment rate in Arizona. If you would like to be part of the mission of providing educational opportunity to high potential students from low income circumstances, your tax deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.