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A mother and daughter are pursuing nursing degrees together at VCU School of Nursing

A passion for helping others led both Jennifer Cousins and her daughter Reagan Cousins to enroll in the VCU School of Nursing.

“We’re able to bounce things off each other and ask questions of each other as we share this experience of being in school together,” Reagan said. “We’re able to support one another.”

Jennifer graduated from VCU with a degree in psychology and taught elementary school for 15 years, but she always dreamed of becoming a nurse.

“Teaching is a wonderful profession,” Jennifer said. “I love children and I loved teaching, but I’ve just not been able to shake this desire in me to become a nurse.”

For Reagan, her interest in nursing grew from her experience as a patient. Since age 4, Reagan has been treated for ulcerative colitis at the University of Virginia’s children’s hospital in Charlottesville, and she continues to be inspired by its doctors and nurses.

“I want to be able to reciprocate the care I’ve received,” she said. “I think I have a lot of knowledge in my back pocket from being on the patient side of things that I will be able to use in my career when I need it.”

Reagan’s experience with a chronic illness also played a role in Jennifer’s decision to switch careers, and it’s been inspirational, she said, to see her daughter pursue her own dreams.

“As a parent, it is wonderful to watch her fulfill her dream,” Jennifer said. “I’m just so proud because her work ethic is amazing, and she just keeps moving forward despite her health challenges. For me, to have the support of my family with my dream of becoming a nurse at the same time that she is pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse makes me very proud. It’s a very full, happy feeling.”

While both are pursuing a B.S. in Nursing, Jennifer is enrolled in the accelerated program, while Reagan is enrolled in the traditional program.

Both mother and daughter have received scholarships – Jennifer’s was made possible by a 2022 gift to the School of Nursing from philanthropists Joanne and Bill Conway through their Bedford Falls Foundation-DAF, and Reagan received a Virginia Merit Scholarship from VCU.

“The dream would be to take care of people,” Jennifer said. “Nursing is similar to teaching in a way. You’re caring for people but in a different capacity. I’m excited about that.”

Jennifer added that, at age 49, her journey is a reminder to hold onto dreams. “It might not happen when you think it’s supposed to happen, but just don’t give up.”

by Brian McNeill

Categories News, Students