Lansing resident awarded scholarship to help pursue nursing degree


After years of waiting, Shirley Rucker is resuming pursuit of her goals

By Katie Arvia

LANSING, Ill. (January 19, 2021) – When Shirley Rucker first graduated from nursing school, she planned to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Family priorities waylaid those plans for years. Now, the Lansing resident is getting her chance to pursue her dream at Western Governors University with help from a scholarship.

Delaying her dream

“I cared for my mom for nearly 15 years,” Rucker said. “I was married with children, and family became my primary focus…I always had a desire to finish what I started, but timing wasn’t right. Now is the perfect time for me to accomplish my dream…Now, I can finish what I started.”

After many years working as a registered nurse and aspiring to do more schooling, in November 2020, Rucker began taking virtual classes at Western Governors University in Utah to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-to-BSN).

Resiliency awarded

Starting school during a pandemic is no easy task, a challenge Rucker felt in many ways, including financially. In October, the the school surprised Rucker with an unexpected help: a $2,500 scholarship. Known as the Resiliency Scholarship, this money was available to new WGU students who were impacted by the pandemic and faced with unforeseen financial hardships. The scholarship can be used for tuition, fees, and instructional materials that will allow students to continue their course of study.

Shirley Rucker is finally taking the next step to pursue her dreams, with help from the Resiliency Scholarship. (Photo provided)

Rucker was awarded her Resiliency Scholarship virtually by WGU Strategic Partnerships Manager Patrick Devanney.

“Receiving the Resiliency Scholarship was such an honor. I was hopeful but wasn’t sure if I would be an award recipient. I am grateful and thankful. The scholarship inspires me to continue this new journey,” said Rucker, who is grateful to pursue a goal that will positively impact her life as well as her family’s.

Family and future

Rucker, who recently celebrated her 28th wedding anniversary, said that her oldest son graduated from college four years ago, her middle son will graduate in 2021 with a degree in social work, and her youngest son aspires to a career in criminal justice.

Sidelined because of a knee replacement, Rucker is currently out of work. Though unfortunate, she now has the time to dedicate herself fully to her studies. Rucker’s anticipated graduation date from WGU is June 2021, and her dreams don’t stop there.

“Upon graduation, I plan to obtain a Masters degree and would like to teach in an online nursing program,” she said. “The journey of life didn’t go as I had planned…[but] through all of life’s issues, I never lost my dream.”