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“How many people have told me I couldn’t do the Nursing program, with two kids and everything? The same number of people said I couldn’t make it through boot camp. But I was brought up to hold my own – I’m a strong woman, and I know I can do whatever I put my mind to.”
Hometown: Norfolk, Massachusetts
It’s safe to say Jessica Malone is not your “typical” 24-year old. She’s already married with two children, and has completed a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy, “two on shore, two at sea,” she says. Now, she’s at MassBay pursuing her career goal of becoming a neo-natal nurse practitioner.
After graduating from King Philip High School in Wrentham, Jessica was faced with an important decision. With five children in the family, her parents didn’t have the money to afford college. Plus, she says, “I wasn’t really ready for college. I was 18 and rebellious. I didn’t want to listen to anybody.”
Her choice was to move out of the house and face an unknown future, or join the U.S. Navy.
For two years Jessica was stationed at the United States Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia as a yoman. She worked in the medical center’s emergency unit, primarily answering phones, cleaning the unit and changing beds. Following the two on-shore years, she shipped out on the U.S.S. Wasp, working with the Captain to coordinate award ceremonies and perform administrative duties. She had a baby during her time in the Naval Academy, Isabella, who is now five years old.
While the ship sailed to exotic ports such as Belize, Cuba, Jamaica, Nova Scotia and Panama, “It was nice from the smoking deck – great views. But for the most part I was just on the Navy base anyway!”
Returning stateside in 2010, Jessica tried to ease back into civilian life. She worked at a few local restaurants and at the Needham Golf Club, but it was then that she and her husband found out they were pregnant. Jessica had her second child, Shawn, in 2011.
By the spring of 2012, Jessica knew she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother and earn a college degree. In fact, Tami Malone had attended MassBay 25 years earlier, but hadn’t completed her degree. In May 2012, after 25 years and five children, Tami earned her Associate’s Degree in Science from MassBay.
“Even when we were growing up my mom was always doing something new,” says Jessica. “She got her real estate license, but got bored of it. I know it’s quite an accomplishment for her to go back and get her degree after being away for so long. She’s a role model for me and my brothers.”
One of Jessica’s brothers took the inspiration to heart – Nathan, 18, is another MOC (Malone On Campus), as a first-year General Studies student in the fall 2012 semester.
Because of her experience in the Navy, Jessica is entitled to free tuition and fees for 36 months of schooling. She also receives $2,400 per month as a Basic Housing Allowance, and $500 per semester for books. She is taking full advantage, taking four courses (13 credits) this fall. She’s completing her pre-requisite courses and will take the placement test for the Nursing program in January.
“The mother of a friend of mine went through the nursing program at MassBay, and she told me it is hard to get into but that once I’m in I’ll love it,” explains Jessica. “And my mom has always said great things about this place.”
Jessica also said MassBay is the “friendliest veterans school in the area.”
“The veterans service agent, Marie Hahs is really helpful. She really cares,” says Jessica. “Plus they’ve got the Veterans Study Center, so I can focus on my work in a quiet area. People here really support us (veterans) and seem to understand what we’ve been through.”
Jessica figures a new-natal nurse practitioner is a good choice for her: “I’ve been changing diapers since I was four!” She also says she snuck into a nursing pinning ceremony recently, and it inspired her to see the people who have completed.
“How many people have told me I couldn’t do the Nursing program, with two kids and everything?” she says. “The same number of people said I couldn’t make it through boot camp. But I was brought up to hold my own – I’m a strong woman, and I know I can do whatever I put my mind to.”
Jessica Malone is a veteran of the United States Navy and will take the placement test for MassBay’s Associate Degree in Nursing program in January 2013. She aspires to become a neo-natal nurse practitioner.