One thing Joline Lowe was sure of after high school graduation was she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
“I also had cousins who were going to college who didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said. “My mother suggested that I start looking into a medical assistant program; it was a six-month thing. When I started working, I was working with LVNs and RNs and realized there was this whole world I wanted to be a part of, but I didn’t have the background or education. That’s what really got me interested. Working with nurses, I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to know what they know.”
Hello, future. Lowe worked as a vocational nurse before she became a registered nurse. She earned an Associate of Nursing degree at San Antonio College in 2009.
“After I got my RN, [my colleagues] were talking about getting their bachelor’s degrees or their master’s degrees,” she said. “My brother got his bachelor’s on campus here at UT [University of Texas] San Antonio when he was in his late 20s. Neither one of our parents had gone to college. I had really little kids at the time, so I wasn’t sure that was something I was ever going to be able to do.”
That’s where the University of Texas at Arlington’s online RN to BSN program came into Lowe’s life. She graduated summa cum laude in 2015. Lowe is now an RN in the intensive care unit at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital in San Antonio. She also owns and operates a CPR training company called Lowe CPR.
“To be able to actually make school fit in my life and do it was amazing,” she said.
Becoming a Maverick
One of the main reasons Lowe chose UT Arlington was because she was able to complete some prerequisites while taking courses in the RN to BSN program.
“I had some coworkers who were all told UT Arlington was a really good school to look at, so I did a little more investigation,” she said. “I had two friends who graduated before me who went through UT Arlington and really liked it. Now, I have a ton of people who are doing it. I have recommended [it] to several people.”
The online format was a necessity, but it also could not have worked out better for Lowe.
When she started taking classes, she discovered that video lectures were but one component of UT Arlington’s online program. The interactive discussion board enabled her to get to know her classmates, and the assignments kept her on track with what she was learning and had her look at it different ways.
The asynchronous schedule allowed her to work school into her busy home and work life.
“If they had a quiz open, it was only open for 12 hours or 24 hours,” Lowe said. “I just made sure I was available at those times. Most times it was a Sunday, which worked. Sometimes it was a Wednesday, so I just made sure I was available that evening or the morning before and did it. I was working full-time and raising two kids, and it worked just fine.
“The other part of it is other schools offered the cohort where you have to take certain classes at certain times. That didn’t really work for me. Here, I was able to not only take the nursing classes but if I had some prerequisite classes that I needed to take, I could incorporate those.”
That flexibility was also key for Lowe to enjoy the school activities of her two sons, Garrett and Garner.
“If I needed to take fewer classes in the fall because one of my sons had football and the other one had band, I was able to do that and take a lot more in the spring when they didn’t have things going on,” she said. “That worked really well.”
Lowe said she enjoyed all of her nursing courses because she could immediately apply the information to her career. Toward the end of the degree program, Lowe was working as an RN case supervisor at Professional Pediatric Home Care in Colorado. The coursework helped her understand her job and company in ways she’d never had before.
“I was talking to my administrator and was able to ask her about the things I was learning and learn more about the company I was working for just by doing those assignments and getting to interview her,” she said. “She let me do a few things I wasn’t able to do before because I wasn’t in that position. I was able to learn about it, interview the CEO and the administrator and talk to different people who did different things in that corporation. It kind of opened my eyes to the bigger picture of work.”
During her career, Lowe has worked as an RN case manager, an RN case supervisor and an RN in a trauma unit. In addition to helping herself advance toward her goal of becoming a nursing instructor at the college level, Lowe felt that setting an example for her children with education came at a perfect time.
“It was very important, especially since when they got to high school they both started losing steam and motivation, wanting to hang out with friends, get a car and get a job,” she said. “They were losing focus on the big picture, so I think that helped a lot because they could see I was able to look at different job opportunities I wouldn’t have qualified for before.”
Everything seems to be lining up perfectly for Lowe. Along with her husband, A.J., she moved back home to Texas in 2016 after living in Colorado for four years. In addition to enjoying hiking and cooking, she is planning to begin a master’s program in 2017. For now, she’s enjoying being a UT Arlington alumna.
“It has a really good reputation,” she said. “Especially when you’re starting a new job, people want to know where you went to school. UT Arlington is definitely a school to be proud you attended. I would say make your degree a priority because it’s going to pay off.”
Learn more about the UTA online RN to BSN program.
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