A self-described “problem solver” who believes in the power of an education to change lives, Laura Marks refused to let financial challenges stop her from attending college. Last year, she enrolled at County College of Morris for the second time because she wants to be a nurse and eventually a neo-natal nurse practitioner.
“Fact is that time is going to pass no matter what you do. I could have not come back to CCM and I’d still be 30 years old,” says Marks. “The question you need to ask is, ‘Do you just let time pass or do you do what needs to be done to get where you want to be?’”
When she first enrolled at CCM in 2003, Marks had to leave after a year to help with some family issues surrounding her father’s sudden death. She was fortunate in that she was able to find a well-paying job with an insurance company. Then that company moved its offices to New York City and Marks, who lives in Oak Ridge, saw it as an opportunity to get back to her original dream.
“I was able to go on unemployment and get a tuition waiver to pay for my first year,” says Marks. That option, however, no longer is available so she and her husband are now funding her education. Her goal is to earn her associate’s degree with as little debt as possible since she also plans to pursue her bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in nursing.
The affordability of CCM, she notes, certainly has helped. Also of assistance is the $2,500 M. K. Squazzo Nursing Scholarship she has been awarded two years in a row in recognition of her outstanding academic success.
“Coming to CCM certainly was a money issue,” she says. “I know there is that old stigma surrounding community colleges but that’s certainly not the case at CCM. Even during our clinical rotations, the doctors and nurses all spoke about how much they respect CCM’s nursing program. It’s a good education and the instructors really help you to do well. They go above and beyond for their students. I’m particularly grateful for the assistance I received from Professors Celeste Wayne and Patricia Baxter, who both helped guide me in and outside the classroom and hospital setting.”
Regarding her future profession, Marks speaks with great pride about reaching her goal.
“There is nothing better than being able to say just the right thing to get someone to smile and help them feel a little bit of comfort,” she says. “I’m really excited about being a nurse and having those initials after my name. There is no greater honor than being in a position to help people.”