Student Overcomes Health Issues, Pursues Dream of Becoming a Nurse

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Nervous, excited, energized – Crystal Walker of Sauk Rapids, Minn. says she was full of emotion as she started her first quarter at the Rasmussen College St. Cloud campus. The School of Nursing student hadn’t stepped inside a college classroom for nearly 20 years.

“I graduated from high school in 1995,” said Walker. “About a year later I earned my associate’s degree in Applied Science. I’ve been working as a veterinary technician ever since.”

Walker says she’s always loved math and science and is fascinated by medicine. It’s the reason she’s worked with animals for so long, but part of her has always been interested in the human healthcare field.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices and hospitals,” said Walker. “Fear and physical limitations have held me back from pursuing my passion.”

When Walker was 15-years-old, she was in a serious car accident resulting in two back surgeries and leaving her with multiple herniated discs and chronic back pain. Then in 2001, she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – a disorder characterized by widespread pain in the muscles and skeleton, fatigue and tenderness.

“That was really hard to hear; I still really haven’t accepted the diagnosis,” said Walker.

At the age of 30, Walker says she hit her low point. Having just undergone her second back surgery, she was in terrible discomfort. At times, Walker says she couldn’t even work because she was in so much pain.

“My doctors pretty much told me I wouldn’t be able to do my job anymore, or any job in the healthcare field for that matter,” said Walker. “It was really depressing and devastating, but at the same time it was motivating. I told myself there was no way I was going to be disabled at just 30-years-old.”

Instead, Walker says she decided to try something new – deep tissue massage. It was recommended by another doctor, so she found a massage therapist willing to work on her back. Walker says he changed her life.

Crystal Walker

“My back almost immediately started to improve,” said Walker. “I continued seeing him every week and eventually started yoga. It may sound cheesy, but that’s who I want to be. I want to be that person that changes someone’s life.”

After six and a half years of therapy and a lifestyle change of healthier eating and staying active, Walker says she’s ready for her next adventure in life – going back to college and becoming a nurse.

“It’s just something I feel pulled to do,” said Walker. “To have people in the healthcare profession who can steer you in the right direction is priceless. That’s who I want to be.”

Walker knows it won’t be easy. She plans to continue working full-time while pursuing her Practical Nursing Associate’s degree at Rasmussen College. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education and earn her bachelor’s degree.

“There are so many opportunities in the nursing field,” said Walker. “Eventually, I’d like to specialize in neurology and surgery. What I’m looking forward to most, though, is being that person who patients can confide in and helping bring them comfort. People need advocates; I know I did, and that’s exactly what the role of a nurse is. If I can positively impact just one person’s life, it will be all worth it.”

Why did you decide to go back to college and what challenges have you overcome along the way? Share by commenting below or email us at [email protected].

About the author

Molly Andersen

Director of Public Relations

Molly is a Director of Public Relations at American Public Education, Inc., where she works on public relations and communications on behalf of Rasmussen University. A passionate storyteller, Molly believes everyone has a story to tell. She feels privileged to share the inspiring stories and wisdom of Rasmussen’s students, alumni, faculty and staff, and show others the transformative power of education.

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