From Bachelor’s to Master’s to an Associate Degree, a Full Circle Journey

Deidra Benn Blog

Deidra was no stranger to higher education. She had two advanced degrees, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in psychology, but she always had a passion for the intersection of mental health and nursing.

“After five years of working in a clinic helping individuals learn the behavioral skills they need to live normal lives I wanted more,” Deidra said. “I got hired at CHKD in its mental health inpatient hospitalization unit and I love it. It was an eye opener. I decided I wanted to do nursing and nothing was gonna stop me. I enrolled with Tidewater Community College, but I had no financial aid left from my previous degrees. But TCC advisors assured everything would be okay and would work out.”

That’s where G3 enters the picture. As a last dollar scholarship, G3 comes in when all other aid is applied, and for many federal funding streams, you can only access those dollars once. Deidra found out that G3 helped to cover the tuition for all the pre-requisites she needed to get into the nursing program, as well as all the textbooks she needed for those courses. As a newcomer to the community college environment, Deidra was excited about the experience.

“I love the atmosphere, I love the people,” Deidra said. “Everybody’s so welcoming. They have a lot of resources that I didn’t really get into when I was starting off in college. I kind of wish that I had started at a community college like this when I had first started college because I feel like had I started with a good foundation.”

Deidra’s journey is off to a good start. She’s been accepted into the nursing program, and she’s now on the two-year journey towards being an RN. One day, she hopes to be able to continue working with CHKD as a pediatric nurse in its psych unit.

“I want to make a difference in behavioral health because I do have my master’s in applied behavioral analysis – it’s what I love,” Deidra said. “I’m trying to see what I can do with behavioral health. I’m trying to see where I fit in, what I can make change, what can I make grow? That’s my dream.”

Community colleges are places for dreamers, for people who want to make a change – not only in their own lives, but in the lives of people in their community. Deidra didn’t let the lack of financial assistance stand in her way. She was determined to find a way, and you can, too.

“If there is no money, you have $0 to pay for anything, there is money out there,” she said. “G3 will help you accomplish all the dreams you have. It covers so many different programs. The money’s there. Just because you don’t think your dreams are going to be achieved because you don’t have money, that’s not an option. Go get your dream. It’s there. Chase it.”