Nigerian native Taiye Ajayi took her first trip to Lafayette, Louisiana, to walk the graduation stage in December 2016. She reached quite a milestone as she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree — Ajayi is the 1,000th graduate of the University of Louisiana Lafayette’s RN to BSN online program.
“I’m so happy to be the 1,000th graduate,” Ajayi said. “It’s a privilege. I’m so happy that I went for that program. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Ajayi eventually wants to become a nurse practitioner, so she went straight into the UL Lafayette RN to BSN program after earning her Associate of Nursing degree from Jefferson Davis Community College in 2015. While her job did not require a BSN, Ajayi decided to continue her education without missing a beat.
“It was my decision,” she said. “I just decided to do it instead of wasting time — because sometimes when you don’t back your decision with action, you may eventually change your mind and give yourself one million reasons for not wanting to do it. Before I went to the University of Louisiana Lafayette, I made so many inquiries and read many reviews to be sure I was heading in the right direction.
“The cost was very affordable and they were very flexible with me. Other schools insisted that I needed to complete all of my prerequisites before embarking on their programs, but UL told me I could start the program while completing my other three classes. That made it so easy for me,” she said.
UL Lafayette College of Nursing officials are very excited to see the online program continue to grow and quickly prepare students for the next step in their careers.
“Faculty, staff, and administrators affiliated with the RN to BSN program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are thrilled to have reached the significant milestone of graduating our 1,000th graduate of the online program,” said Associate Dean, College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and Department of Nursing Professor Melinda G. Oberleitner. “It is gratifying to know that we are able to offer a program of study of such high quality in accelerated formats which enables practicing nurses to achieve their educational goals and to realize the noteworthy role the RN to BSN program plays in shaping the careers of our nursing leaders of the future.”
Hard Work Pays Off
Ajayi lives in Bay Minette, Alabama, and works in the emergency room at the North Baldwin Infirmary, one of three acute care hospitals in the Infirmary Health system. Infirmary Health also has two rehabilitation hospitals, three outpatient facilities and more than 30 clinics in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.
However, it was back home in Nigeria where Ajayi first discovered she wanted to make a difference by providing care for people in need.
“I became interested after following my mother to some of her hospital appointments,” Ajayi said. “I discovered that the nurses spent more time with us and took really good care of my mum. I wanted to touch other people’s lives as others have touched mine.”
Earning an RN to BSN online turned out to be the perfect way to fit school into her busy life, allowing her to maintain her regular work schedule. In fact, the flexibility was one of the biggest selling points of the program for her.
“It was really good,” she said. “You don’t have to travel anywhere. You just have to know the dates of your deadlines, put them in your calendar and set a reminder for yourself. The good thing is that most of the classes follow the same pattern and before you know it you are done with the program.”
Ajayi also said she was able to immediately apply what she was learning, both inside and outside of the emergency room.
“I remember there was a discussion we had in class about how nurses could help to lower the healthcare costs,” she explained. “Some examples given were by providing quality care such as preventing DVT and hospital-acquired urinary tract infections and by also preventing hospital readmissions. We also went further to discuss how managers could reduce costs by not over staffing the units and also monitoring the excessive use of hospital supplies. From that moment we had the discussion, I have always been very careful in piling my pocket with materials or wound care supplies that the patients may end up not using so as to contain cost. I tried as much as possible to link the care I am giving to my patient to the overall cost.”
Coming to America
Ajayi moved from Nigeria in 2012 to join her husband, who was attending school in the United States at the time.
“Of course, it took me a while to adjust,” she said. “When I got here, I experienced a culture shock and took me a while to adjust. But I have really adjusted so far. I remember going back to Nigeria this last summer for three weeks and was so eager to come back.”
Most of her family, which includes six siblings, still lives in Nigeria, although she has a brother who lives in Chicago. Even though her relatives are all a long way from Alabama, they helped Ajayi earn her bachelor’s degree.
“My husband and my relatives were very supportive,” she said. “When you’re doing the online program, it’s important to have a supportive family, or it can be a little bit hard.”
Now that she is finally finished with school, Ajayi can focus on what she loves doing. And she believes anybody who is thinking about joining the RN to BSN program at UL Lafayette should seize the opportunity.
“They should go for it,” she said. “It’s not too late and there is no need to procrastinate. To nurses who are working full time and have little kids, it’s very doable. I am a living example. I had a two-year-old and a six-month-old and was working full time when I started. It’s very, very doable once you start. Go for it!”
Take it from the 1,000th graduate.
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