Overcoming Adversity: Stephanie Jacobs’ RN to BSN Online Success

Written byFaith Derouen

“I know that furthering my education is going to come in handy no matter what. I just want to be an inspiration to single mothers to just keep moving forward and show them they can reach their goals.”

Stephanie Jacobs
Graduation Year
Jackson, LA

In August 2016, thousands of homes and businesses in Louisiana experienced catastrophic flooding with no warning.

Stephanie Jacobs, of Jackson, Louisiana, was among them.

And as the home she shared with her four children took on water, she also found herself flooded with doubt. 

Would she be able to weather this storm while working two jobs, caring for her children, and earning her BSN degree through the online RN to BSN program at UL Lafayette? 

“Freshly divorced, single mom, four kids — just found out the house is mine. And then, boom, it floods,” she says. “I mean, I’d never flooded before. I was working two jobs, keeping the kids in school during the day. I’m living in a tent on the concrete outside of our house because I was afraid of black mold.” 

While Jacobs did take time off from school, she re-enrolled two years later to achieve her goal. 

“I know that furthering my education is going to come in handy no matter what. I just want to be an inspiration to single mothers to just keep moving forward and show them they can reach their goals,” Jacobs says. 

Stepping up 

Motivated by her desire to provide for her children independently, Jacobs earned her RN license through an associate degree program. 

While working alongside a fellow nurse enrolled in UL Lafayette’s online RN to BSN program, Jacobs found herself intrigued by the possibilities it offered. 

“I would come in on an evening and she would be finishing up some schoolwork,” she says. “So I asked what she was doing, and she showed me the website, the school, Moodle. I was like, ‘This is so cool. This has got my name all over it.’”

 Jacobs enrolled in the program and dove into her studies headfirst. 

“I hadn’t taken online courses before, but it was an easy adjustment. My math instructor over the summer was phenomenal. I maintained constant communication with her,” she says.

A sudden change in plans 

When Jacobs’ divorce was finalized, her world turned upside down. Little did she know that after signing the papers following a long night shift at the hospital, she would arrive home to a flooded house. 

"I had four feet of water in the house, but the moisture creeps up the drywall and insulation another foot or so. I had to gut up to the eight-foot mark, and the doors were wooden so they swelled to where you couldn’t shut them,” she recalls. 

As renovations mounted, Jacobs had to readjust and find a new way forward. “I did have to withdraw from the online RN to BSN program,” says Jacobs. “It was major turmoil. It came with a lot of despair and shock, but my co-workers really showed up for me.”

Paving a new path 

Determined to continue her educational journey, Jacobs got back in the game two years later. 

“I was able to re-enroll in 2018, and I did not bite off more than I could chew starting back. I just made sure to take it one class at a time,” she says. 

These days, Jacobs’ commitment to advancement extends beyond the classroom. Working as a nurse manager at a state mental health facility, she leverages her education to promote positive change and enhance patient care. 

“Part of the RN to BSN program’s capstone is to create a proposal for a change,” she explains. “And using the knowledge gained from the program and capstone empowers students to work with others while advocating for change in their organizations.”

Beyond her managerial role, Jacobs also dedicates her time to co-training LivingWorks ASIST workshops, which are designed to build suicide-safer communities. 

Committed to addressing the need for improved mental health care, she’s applied to the online MSN program at UL Lafayette. 

“To me, mental health is underfunded. It’s not studied enough,” she says. “I found in a lot of my research, just trying to find articles and literature for the proposal, a lot of the studies are in different countries, and the United States doesn't really have a lot.” 

After investing so much time and effort into her studies, Jacobs is still adjusting to the fact that she’s finally earning her BSN degree. 

“I finished my coursework early March, and I still check the UL Lafayette website. It’s like we broke up and I wasn't ready for it to be over,” she laughs. “I'm literally logging in to the portal and just checking for updates. Over the years UL Lafayette has been a big part of my life and daily routine.”

Ready to take the next step in your nursing career? Learn more about our online RN to BSN program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

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