46-year-old nursing student graduates with a 4.0 GPA

(NeoshoDailyNews) While graduating from a nursing program with a 4.0 grade point average is a large feat for any traditional college student, for recent Crowder College graduate, Denisa Simpson, the experience was anything but traditional.

Simpson, 46 of Webb City, said college was never something she had planned on doing.

“It wasn’t really a thing they pushed when I was growing up,” Simpson said.

However, following encouragement from friends and family members, she decided to take a chance, and at the age of 42 took the ACT, a test usually taken by high school juniors and seniors.

After doing well on the test, it was the extra push from those in her life that made the stay-at-home mom decide to give school a try.

“It was hard but with kids you have to set an example,” Simpson said. “I have to do my best and work hard because that’s what I teach my children.”

With two sons, ages 10 and 14, and a step-daughter, 18, Simpson said at first it was a difficult transition not being at home to care for her children. But with the support of her husband and kids, Simpson was able to excel.

“At Crowder, it wasn’t that bad because there are quite a few non-traditional students, that was part of my decision to go there,” she said.

As a non-traditional student, there were several challenges for Simpson along the way, such as creating PowerPoint presentations and taking online courses.

“An online class is a lot of work for someone who doesn’t have a lot of computer experience,” she said.

With the help of a loyal study group, who Simpson pointed out were young enough to be her children, she eventually mastered the computer skills.

She made her schedule work by taking her general education requirements at the Webb City Crowder location, then taking her nursing courses in Neosho.

For Simpson, who describes herself as a caretaker, nursing was an easy choice.

“I’m always taking care of people around me,” she said. “Also, when I was in the hospital a couple times as a kid it was the nurses that really made me feel at home.”

Though her hands were full with being a full time student, mother and wife, Simpson was still able to give studying nursing her all, and in the end, that extra effort was recognized.

In addition to graduating with a 4.0 GPA, she also received the James T. Payne Award for excellence in scholastic performance.

Now that graduation is over, Simpson will soon begin the hunt for the perfect job.

While Simpson says she is open to any nursing opportunities, one that really interests her is school nursing.

“I know the money’s not in school nursing but it’s not about money for me,” she said.

For now, she is focusing on studying for her nursing board exams, which are scheduled for Jan. 31.