First Two RN to BSN Students to Receive Diplomas

Published Friday, May 08, 2015
Kristin Adams and Hillary Spray
Kristin Adams and Hillary Spray

What a great feeling it is to walk across the commencement stage, knowing you have a job waiting for you.
That’s the situation that Kristin Adams and Hillary Spray find themselves in as the first graduates of the university’s RN to BSN program.

Adams is a Winsted, Minnesota native who earned her RN degree from Ridgewater College in Willmar. She saw that the RN to BSN degree was being offered at SMSU a couple of years ago and although “the opportunity came up faster than I thought it would, it has fit perfectly. I didn’t know what to expect, so it’s been very rewarding. I’ve learned a lot, and grown in the opportunities presented.”

She will be a substitute nurse in the Marshall School District next year, as well as work as a sub at Avera-Marshall. Most recently she was employed by Wild Rose Touching Hearts Home Care in Marshall.

“My plan from the beginning was the get my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “The industry is moving toward a BSN being required. At the hospital I had originally applied, I never got a call back. I sent several applications out. I re-did my resume indicating I was in the RN to BSN program and will be graduating in May, and I got a call the next day. A lot of hospitals want that BSN ratio to be higher.”

Kristin and her husband Kyle are expecting their first child — a daughter — on June 4, and the flexibility of the SMSU degree was attractive from the start. “All of us in the program are working and are moms and wives and dads and husbands. We work full time and go to school too. “
There’s a broad age range of those in the program now, she said. “I’ve been an RN for two years, and some have been an RN for 30 years. We learn from each other. We can talk to the older students about some of the newer ways, and they can teach us what they have done for years.

“I think the thing I have noticed about being in the program is that you grow in your mind, and your leadership skills.”
Spray is a Milan native living in Montevideo. She, too, got her RN degree from Ridgewater. The mother of two — Parker, 5, and Elexis, 2 — she found the flexibility of the degree to be accommodating.

“I do my homework after work with my kids on my lap. They are picking on my computer the whole time. My little lady is pretty excited, she said, ‘No more homework!’”

Spray will go to work full-time for Countryside Public Health in Montevideo after graduation. She will also continue with Lutheran Haven Nursing Home in Montevideo on a part-time basis.

She has her goals set high. “I’d like to go on for my master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner,” she said.

In the process of getting her RN to BSN degree, “it has opened my eyes to different techniques and different ways of thinking. I think more critically now, am more open to ideas, and have more leadership skills. The BSN gives me more opportunities professionally.”

The two agree that rural health care has changed over the years. “Home care and public health are trying to help keep people in their homes longer,” said Spray. “There are more resources than people know about. Public health has opened my eyes completely.”

The two chuckle when they realize they are now the answer to the trivia question: “Name the first two graduates of the RN to BSN program.” For them, it is an opportunity to advance professionally and tremendously increases their options as they continue with their respective careers.