“I am the first in my family to graduate from college. Achieving this degree allowed my family to get out of poverty.”

For Stephanie Edwards, pulling her family out of poverty came after seeing an advertisement for Austin Community College District (ACC).

“I was watching television and one day there was an ad for the Associate of Nursing (RN) program at ACC. I looked into enrolling right after that. I was born and raised in Austin and chose ACC because it was community-centered.”

Stephanie earned her RN in 2011 before returning to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in August 2023. 

“I am a mother of three, and I was working full time. So, I had to take classes when time allowed. I needed the flexible schedule ACC offers. The program was challenging, and I pushed myself hard. ”  

Navigating the higher education world was new to her.

“My parents did not finish high school or go to college, we were a very low-income family. I did not have the foundation to pursue college initially after graduating from high school. My family is a very large Hispanic family with six children. The advisors at ACC gave me the foundation and support I needed to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. They also helped me when I came back to continue my education.”

Becoming a nurse was a personal decision for Stephanie after seeing the importance of providing care during a vulnerable time in her life.

“My mother was very sick and passed away when I was 18. I remembered how the nursing staff at the hospital were so kind and caring. I wanted to do that — help people and give compassionate care.”

ACC’s RN-to-BSN degree focuses on preparing nurses to become leaders in complex healthcare settings. The program provides students with knowledge in health policy, community and public health, research, evidence-based nursing, and leadership and management skills. This is something Stephanie wants to take forward in the future. 

“ACC has helped me accomplish my goals. I look forward to pursuing my Master of Science in Nursing. I would not have thought that was possible 15 years ago.”

New cohorts start every fall and spring with both full- and part-time options. Students can sign up for on-campus, online, or hybrid courses. For those looking to get started, Stephanie offers some advice.

“Healthcare is always changing. It is important to remain flexible both in nursing and on the patient side. ACC faculty mold and guide students to reach their maximum potential and stay flexible. The encouragement helps to provide the support needed to be successful.”

For more information about the program. and to apply, visit austincc.edu/bsn.