Campus & Community

Life experience and inspiration lead nontraditional graduate to successful new career

When Sinead Ferguson of Loxahatchee (originally from Dumfries, Scotland) was diagnosed with breast cancer right before her 42nd birthday, she faced extraordinary circumstances.

The next 18 months would include numerous surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, and all would take place during the initial COVID-19 pandemic. Yet Ferguson confronted her situation and these circumstances with intention and purpose, inspired by the oncology nurses who took care of her.

“Donna, Manoschka, and Jaimie at Florida Cancer Care were so compassionate and caring. “‘This was something I could do, and I feel I would enjoy giving back’ I told myself,” Ferguson said.  That is when she decided to earn an Associate’s degree at Palm Beach State College (PBSC) to gain entrance into their nursing program.  In the next 16 months, she took advantage of the time everyone was in isolation.  A former licensed massage therapist, Ferguson enrolled online, some days participating in classes from her hospital bed – and one summer taking eight classes – to make sure she would be eligible to apply for the Associate in Science degree in nursing.

“She completed her AA while going through chemo, surgeries, blood transfusions, and radiation, all while maintaining a positive attitude,” said Matthew Klauza, PBSC English Professor.  “She is hands down the most amazing student I’ve had in 23 years of teaching.”

Ferguson recalled her first couple of semesters in the PBSC nursing program as demanding. She learned how to think critically and praised her instructor, Dr. Marie-Alix Joseph, for being “phenomenally kind, caring, and encouraging.”

“If you can get into the PBSC nurse program, it is tried and true, very cost-effective, and known in this field,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson also has been fortunate to have a great group of diverse friends who have inspired and supported her for years.  She recently completed a nurse externship in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Saint Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach and was accepted into its immersion program, on track to work in the ICU.

As a non-traditional student, Ferguson encourages those who wish to make a difference consider higher education goals for themselves. “Even when I was on vacation for a week I could login,” she said. “I managed to keep a 4.0 grade point average.  I am proof that you can do it. Don’t let your age or lack of online experience deter you from enrolling in classes.”

Dr. Joseph also supports and encourages non-traditional students to consider careers in nursing. “It’s never too late. People like these as students become outstanding leaders and have higher than average critical thinking skills. Their maturity is a plus as well as the lifelong experiences, “Dr. Joseph said. “Furthermore, Sinead was a great mentor to some of your younger classmates. She went above and beyond to make sure that they were successful in class. I am proud of her accomplishment, and it was an honor to be part of Sinead’s journey here at PBSC.”

Ferguson’s life experience also has contributed to her intentions and success.  She came to America working as a High Goal polo groom and had cared for her own Mom for several months before she died.  High Goal polo is an international sport played at the highest level, demanding precision, agility, and endurance.

As Ferguson waits to take the state board nursing examination, she wastes no time getting on with her life, and giving back.  She loves working in the ICU and has enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at PBSC.  Ferguson also continues to volunteer time to foster cats and kittens at A Second Chance Puppies and Kittens Rescue. Her aspirations include working as a Nurse Practitioner or perhaps in Hospice and Palliative Care.

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7 comments on “Life experience and inspiration lead nontraditional graduate to successful new career”

  1. A true inspiration and proves hard work pays off making dreams happen no matter what life throws at you. Such a strong and beautiful lady.

  2. She is such an amazing and wonderful person. It’s an honor to know her. I am so proud of her accomplishments although I do miss her amazing massages!

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