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2023 - Juliet Duncan: Sometimes dreams take a long time to fulfill, but it’s worth it in the end

Tags: Commencement | Graduation Essays
Published 05/15/2023
Elgin Community College Spring 2023 graduate Juliet Duncan

Elgin Community College Spring 2023 graduate Juliet Duncan

My love for the medical profession began when I was just two. I was in a sledding accident and had to go to the ER to get eight stitches in my right eyebrow. That experience sparked something in me. I watched all the medical reality shows as a young girl: Rescue-911 with William Shatner, Trauma, Life in the ER, and I knew that I wanted to become a nurse.

The road to this moment was long and winding, with a few bumps along the way. While I became a CNA right out of high school, life got in the way, and I went into the legal field for about 16 years. My husband and I married in 2014, and we had our first child later that year. In 2016, we had our second child, and the call to pursue nursing became too loud to ignore. In the summer of 2017, I excitedly enrolled at Elgin Community College to begin my prerequisites. Since I worked 50 hours a week, I could only take two classes per semester. Fast forward to the fall of 2019 (and another child later), I was ready to apply to ECC’s nursing program.

I was elated to receive my acceptance letter in early 2020. My dreams could soon become a reality. And then COVID happened. The entire world shut down. The beginning of my nursing school experience looked much different than I imagined. Being a kinesthetic and tactile learner, Zoom classes proved to be extremely difficult. Validations were done at home and sent to the instructors via a private YouTube link. We all had to improvise on many things, like learning how to inject medications using an orange, but we all made it work. Despite my efforts, I did not pass my third semester. I was disappointed but not defeated. I was put on a waiting list to return to the program to retake the semester, and while I waited, I continued to take other classes, like Spanish, that would help me later in my career. My peers were always there for me, even after I did not pass my third semester. A few of those who have been with me since the start are Megan Petronella, Kailly Trejo, and Caitlin Donlevy, to name a few special people.

I re-entered the program in August of 2022. Unfortunately, during the wait, my dad’s health steadily declined. Being a first-generation college graduate, it was a big deal for my dad to see me walk across the stage. But God had other plans, and my father passed away on October 26, 2022. Very recently, I also suddenly lost my sister, Angela Newell. So now, instead of my dad and sister just watching me from the bleachers, they will walk with me in spirit, one on each side!

Although the path to my dream was rocky, I persevered and made it. Finding a quiet space to study with three littles in the house proved difficult, but I had a team standing behind me, giving me this opportunity to succeed: my husband, my parents, my in-laws, and my aunt; without them, I would not be here.

This is for you, Daddy!

Juliet Duncan, Elgin

Associate of Applied Science