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MSN Degree: The Result of One Nurse's Unwavering Determination

Christina White next to a blue banner and cartoon like stethoscope over it

When Christina White, MSN, CRRN, MRMRC, had the chance to earn her graduate degree at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), she knew it was an opportunity she had to latch onto.

After 20 years away from earning her undergraduate degree, she knew going back to school would be no small feat, but she was ready.

"This was an opportunity that I simply could not ignore, even though it was a daunting challenge," she said.

But White had faced far more demanding challenges before and was prepared now to add her master's degree to her list of accomplishments.

Grandmother's Inspiration Leads to Nursing Career

White earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 1994 and was heavily inspired by her grandmother to do so. Her grandmother had spent her life as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in a pediatric emergency department.

"Listening to her experiences, admiring her strength and knowledge led me to pursue a nursing career," said White.

Her grandmother encouraged White to push her dream far beyond what she ever had. She wanted her granddaughter to achieve more, to become an RN and earn her college degree.

So, this is exactly what White did, becoming her family's first college graduate. But she decided to take it a step further.

When White's employer, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, partnered with the SNHU to offer their staff a chance to get their degree, White took advantage of this opportunity. And as of 2021, she has her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

"Earning an MSN has provided me with enhanced education, experience and professional confidence," said White. "Signing my credentials, knowing the effort that I put into earning them, brings a sense of pride and accomplishment."

Balancing Education with a Busy Schedule

While pursuing her MSN, life was extraordinarily busy for White. A single mother to three teenage daughters, she also worked 40-60 hours weekly as a nursing supervisor at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center.

She also had many changes and events happening in her personal life.

"While working toward completing my degree, I became engaged, planned a wedding, got married, sold my home, moved in with my new husband, remodeled our 'together home' and embarked on a venture with our newly blended family that boasts five daughters between us," she said. "And along the way, the pandemic started and coincided with a new leadership role I took on at Spaulding."

White has achieved a lot in her life, but one of her proudest accomplishments is that she is now inspiring other nurses to continue their education.

"I am now able to act as a preceptor to other MSN students, which has been a very rewarding experience that I hope to continue," White said.

White is passionate about helping others achieve their education dreams. Setting goals and working towards them is crucial,  she said, even if they are intimidating — something she knows from experience.

"What if I had listened to that doubting voice in my head that would sometimes try to sabotage my efforts, tried to take the easy way out, or attempted to erect barriers to my success," said White. "Education has provided knowledge and opportunity in my life that feels like layers of strength and confidence."

The Difference Support Makes

It's also been particularly meaningful for White to serve as an example and encouragement for her daughters, who have been such a support to her throughout her journey.

"I am proud of being a positive example for my daughters," she said. "For them to know that setting goals and working to achieve them is worth it."

White wasn't sure if an MSN was the right choice a few times, but she credits her husband's support for keeping her on track. He knew she had it in her to achieve anything she set her mind to.

He knew this because tough or chaotic times have never stopped White from pushing forward with her goals. White is a cancer survivor celebrating 10 years of being cancer free this year.

She credits the hard work of her doctors and nurses during her cancer treatment as one of the reasons she earned her master's degree in the first place.

"Without them, I do not believe I would be here to earn my MSN degree, marry my wonderful husband, see my daughters grow and marry, or cuddle my grandson," she said.

She approached everything with an eagerness to absorb as much education and life as possible, and she was able to accomplish all of it.

"I am grateful that I had grit and determination like my grandmother and the support of my family to keep going," she said.

And now, being the support system in her work as a nurse, and as mother, grandmother, SNHU graduate and cancer survivor, White can take her passion and help others achieve their goals.

"Being able to support the education of others is important to me as a nurse, leader and person. As nurses and leaders, we need to support other nurses," she said. "Acting as a preceptor for students as they pursue an MSN degree is one way I can honor my profession and the opportunities that have come my way."

A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU nursing program that can best help you meet your goals.

Alexa Gustavsen '21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.