BSN Program's Darcy Proving It Is Never Too Late to Get Degree
November 02, 2007
With more than 40 years experience as a nurse, Kathy Darcy chose just last year to enroll in Emmanuel College's accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Why? Well perhaps her daughter Jennifer Taddeo can explain it best.
"She's fearless," she said.
During the summer of 2006, Darcy decided to explore the College's program after a discussion with two St. Elizabeth Hospital co-workers who were also enrolled. Designed for registered nurses who are graduates of National League for Nursing (NLN)-accredited diploma associate degree programs, the BSN degree represented a wonderful opportunity to strengthen what Darcy felt was the next step in her career.
"My goal was to get my bachelor's degree so that I could teach, specifically in the clinical setting," she said. "I think I just have so much experience that I would love to pass it on. So far, the program has been phenomenal and the professors have been so supportive throughout."
Her drive towards a college degree would alone seem story enough for this proud grandmother of two. Yet, recognizing her commitment to furthering her education barely scratches the surface of understanding the fearless manner in which Darcy approaches life.
Her story is one of a woman of incredible character: a single mother who raised two adopted children; a trauma and emergency room nurse who has seen just about everything in her four decades of service; a person with such desire and lack of trepidation that she has made any decision in life appear not only possible, but seemingly effortless.
As a youth, Taddeo remembers how omnipresent her mother was in her and her brother Bill's life. Although she says they may not have had a lot growing up in Randolph, MA, it always seemed to the two of them as if they had everything. Their home was the one always filled with friends just hanging out. And Darcy was the neighborhood mom everyone came to see when they had questions.
"I look back on it now and I don't know how she was able to do the great job that she did," said Taddeo. "We have such amazing memories and she was always so open and understanding. She took difficult circumstances and made sure we never felt it. I have always felt so grateful."
Perhaps the easiest way to define Darcy's character is through the respect and appreciation shown to her by others. She has been invited to countless weddings of Taddeo's friends due to the impact she has had on them throughout their lives. Prior to enrolling at Emmanuel, she was awarded a scholarship through the Women's Success Network, which provides support for women desiring to advance their careers through education. Most significantly, a few years ago, she was inducted into her daughter's sorority, Chi Omega, after sisters petitioned the national board to bestow membership upon her because they felt she so strongly represented the type of person their members should strive to emulate. The day of her induction at the Tufts University chapter, Darcy was handed a big box filled with letters written by women she had met through the years who wanted to share how much of an impression she had left upon them.
"It had only been done once or twice before," Darcy said of the special induction. "And to think it happened to me was just one of the proudest moments of my life."
Taddeo remembers fondly a day nearly 15 years ago in which her mother's steadfast determination and ability to make life's challenging decisions seem fleeting were especially clear. During the summer before her freshman year at American University, she and her mother were driving through Quincy's town center when they got lost around the intersection and pulled into Quincy College's parking lot. A licensed practical nurse at the time, Darcy had been considering going back to school to become a registered nurse. An event now considered by the family to be more an intervention of fate than a driving gaffe, Jennifer remembers her mother telling her to wait in the car while she quickly ran inside.
"I didn't think anything of it," Taddeo said of that day. "She just pulled in and told me she would be back in a few minutes. When she came out she looked a little pale and told me she had just registered to go back to college."
"I had no intention of signing up for classes that day, I just kept driving around Quincy center," said Darcy. "I knew I wanted to go back but not in a million years did I think it would be that day."
After graduating from the program in 1995, Darcy's next daring decision came a year later when she moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a traveling nurse throughout some of the city's biggest hospitals. With Jennifer starting her first year at Georgetown University's law school and Bill enrolled at the University of Maryland, she figured there was little need for her to stay up north. So she packed up her things, sold the house, bought a few maps, and drove out of town to be closer to her two children.
During the five years she lived in the nation's capitol, Darcy had the chance to work in some of the toughest trauma and emergency rooms around. When Jennifer eventually got engaged and relocated back to the Boston area, she too followed behind, but returned with an expanded portfolio of nursing knowledge and experience that was truly unparalleled.
"I loved every minute of it, from the day I drove in to the day I left. It's the best place in the world," she said of Washington, D.C. "I loved working with inner city people, that's my type of nursing. There's a lot of trauma, but it makes you very humble. I returned to Boston as a traveling nurse to St. Elizabeth's and eventually accepted a full-time position there. But if [Jennifer and her husband, Russell] had gone anywhere but Boston I probably would have stayed down [in D.C.]."
With her grandchildren Alice Rose, who will turn four years old in March, and Ryan John, turning two this February, keeping her busy, one would think Darcy would be content to simply live up the role of grandmother. But for those who know her best, there was little surprise when she announced last year that she was plunging into another challenge.
"What really got her was that if she got her bachelor's degree she could teach, and that's thrilling to her," said Taddeo. "She's committed to doing this. She has made a lot of changes so that she could go back to school. She sold her condo in Bellingham and moved to Watertown just to make her commute easier between school and work."
"I knew it was something I always wanted, whether to prove to myself or other people," said Darcy. "People tell me I would make a phenomenal teacher. Even if one person could take something from my experiences I would be happy.
"I have learned so much from my time at Emmanuel, especially about diversity," she added. "I'm out there meeting new people and learning about their different jobs and experiences, some of which I didn't even know existed in my profession. It opens a lot of doors and opportunities. It's something I wish I had done 20 years ago."
If everything goes as planned, ultimately, when Darcy graduates in December 2008, her Emmanuel education will open a whole new world. For someone who has never been afraid of any challenge, the future looks to be filled with excitement.
"She just does things with such passion and jumps into things with both feet," said Taddeo of her mother. "She sets her mind to something and just does it. It never occurs to her to fail."