Raymonda Johnson graduated in June 2021 from the Polk State Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program and is working per diem as a nurse in Central Florida while she attends Nova Southeastern University to pursue graduate studies in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program. But she admits, it took time for her to find her track in life and there have been many obstacles in her path along the way. Still, she has persisted.
“Polk State opened my eyes to a lot of things,” Johnson said. “It opened my eyes to all of the avenues I can take and all the ways I can help people. Becoming a nurse changed my life, my family’s life, and the lives of everyone who depends on me.”
From a young age, she felt called to be a caregiver. As a child, she took care of her mother, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s and passed away from the disease when Johnson was only 13 years old.
“Polk State opened my eyes to a lot of things. It opened my eyes to all of the avenues I can take and all the ways I can help people.
“My mom always told me to do good and that kind of stuck with me,” Johnson explained. “It just took me some time to grow up and truly understand what she was talking about.”
“It felt like the world was against us growing up,” she added about her and her sister’s childhood. When their mother passed, they were split up into different households. “But our mom always knew that we would do something positive, something with great responsibility, and something that we would shine in despite everything we had been through.”
Johnson’s sister recently retired from the U.S. Marines. And now Johnson is pursuing her graduate studies with a focus on mental healthcare so that she can serve a widely underrepresented population of people in need of quality care.
“I want to get to a place where I have the utmost expertise in my field so that I can provide the most exceptional care,” Johnson said. “As nurses, we are advocates for our patients, and we can’t do that effectively unless we have a solid foundation of knowledge.”
Polk State Nursing has given Johnson a strong foundation.
“Graduate school is different, but my experience at Polk State has completely prepared me for it,” she said. “I highly recommend the Polk State Nursing Program; not only because of the affordability but also because the professors are knowledgeable and have no objection when it comes to spending a little extra time with students who need help.”
“Graduate school is different, but my experience at Polk State has completely prepared me for it.”
Johnson first enrolled at Polk State after high school, “but I was young and dumb, and it didn’t work out.”
At 25 years old, she decided to give higher education another shot, and Polk State was again her first choice; however, her test scores did not meet the requirements for the College’s competitive Nursing Program.
She didn’t give up.
Johnson achieved her associate degree from Rasmussen College before applying to Polk State Nursing again. This time, she was accepted.
Going back to school was difficult, she admitted.
“I had always been an A student and I went in with the mindset that ‘I got this,’” Johnson said. “Then I failed two classes and had to appeal being removed from the program. Despite everything, though, I stuck with it.”
And so did her support system of family and professors, who she credits with helping her through difficult times that seemed to plague her higher education journey.
Her aunt passed away from Stage 4 bone cancer, and her father contracted COVID-19 during the capstone of her baccalaureate program.
“I thought, ‘what else could possibly go wrong?’” Johnson said. “But with the support of Dr. Wiseman, I got through. If I could give Dr. Wiseman an award, I would. She is the best professor.”
Johnson added that Polk State Nursing taught her how to think critically in her profession.
“I highly recommend the Polk State Nursing Program; not only because of the affordability but also because the professors are knowledgeable and have no objection when it comes to spending a little extra time with students who need help.”
“There is this focus on the ‘why factor,’” she explained. “Why are we doing something or why are we doing it that way. We delved deep into evidence-based practice, leadership, and how to be a better patient advocate. It has inspired me to mold myself into someone who can be really hands-on with my community.”
She aspires to one day open her own healthcare business with a focus on mental health and holistic care.
“Especially in my community of African Americans and minorities, mental health is underrepresented, and I want to be part of a solution,” Johnson said.
Much like the program’s focus on the “why,” Johnson’s experience at Polk State and in the nursing field has helped her develop her own “why.”
“I would tell students that it’s not for nothing – it’s for something,” she shared as a piece of advice. “If they don’t know what that something is, they will discover what it is along the way. Just keep going.”