Melissa Gillespie

BS Nursing - RN to BSN

"It’s a very well-developed program, and it will allow me to branch off in a number of ways."

Melissa Gillespie lives by a simple mantra — you find a way or make a way. And this has served the 38-year-old mother of three, wife of a Navy sailor, well in life.

“People tell me things can’t be done, and I just go ahead and do them anyway,” Gillespie said.

So when people told her it would be impossible to go back to school for a bachelor’s in nursing while simultaneously going through an internship to become an operating room nurse, she simply went ahead and did it.

“I was tired of stopping nursing programs and then starting them again,” she said of her past attempts to complete her degree being stymied by her family’s frequent moves as her husband, Quinton, was reassigned.

SNHU offered her the variability and flexibility needed, and the university was military-friendly.

“It’s a very well-developed program, and it will allow me to branch off in a number of ways,” she said.

Accomplishing the degree in the face of odds most people would not tackle, let alone consider, is a testament to Gillespie’s dogged determination and a certain fearlessness. She grew up with “bitterly divorced” parents — a father who was a mechanic and a mother who was a dog groomer who later became a nurse.

“I saw nursing as a portable degree,” she said. “And it was a degree with a high return on investment.”

As importantly, nursing spoke to a sense of independence and the assurance that if things did go south, she could provide for herself and her family.

“My husband will always be there, but bad things happen all the time,” she said. “I feel better contributing financially to my household.”

Gillespie, herself former military, started her degree program in November 2015. For much of that time her husband was deployed and away from home. She managed to juggle children, home, a demanding job with variable hours and school.

“You just get the job done,” she said.

And getting that job done required intelligence, will and tenacity, and the certain understanding that having a degree does not mean you’re assured of an easy future.

“I’ve stayed true to what I think I can do,” she said.

When the cap and gown are put away, and she’s back on the nursing floor, she’ll think about her options with the certain unshakeable knowledge that whatever they are she will achieve them.

“You find a way, or make a way,” she said.