Student Success: FRCC Nursing Grad Finds Her Calling in Oncology
From the time she was a teenager, Tessa Devore has known she was meant to help others. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” says Tessa, who started her career after high school as a Certified Nurse Aide. “I was always great at helping people.” For 11 years, Tessa worked as a CNA and an Emergency Medical Technician in Steamboat Springs, Grand Junction, and Austin, Texas.
When she was living in Steamboat, Tessa started taking prerequisites for nursing school at Colorado Mountain College, and when family matters led her to Grand Junction, she continued to do so at Mesa State College, now Colorado Mesa University. In 2003, she decided to move to Denver. On the recommendation of a number of family friends, she set her sights on Front Range Community College’s Nursing Program—and began taking classes at the Westminster Campus while she waited for her name to come up on the program’s waiting list.
An Unexpected Hurdle.
Just a few months into her FRCC coursework, Tessa tore her meniscus —and the injury made it difficult for her to go about her daily life. She dropped out of FRCC, went through four surgeries, and went back on nursing waiting lists at FRCC and several other nursing programs. As she recovered, she earned her Certified Massage Therapist credential and started working at a jewelry store.
But it wasn’t what she wanted. “It was so frustrating, because I was limited for a while doing things I really didn’t want to do,” Tessa says. “I knew what I was meant to be doing.”
FRCC Prepares Nurses Better.
After a long road, in 2006, Tessa finally returned to FRCC—and she started the nursing program in 2008. The experience exceeded her expectations. “FRCC prepares nurses better than any other program because they’ve been doing it for so long,” says Tessa, who was the vice president of her class and 2010 recipient of a Vice President’s Service Award. “I truly enjoyed my FRCC education. The teachers are incredibly dedicated and supportive.” Diane Bligh in particular made a lasting impact. “She is passionate about student success. She makes every effort to get students involved and help them do well.”
Seeing Students Grow Fuels Passion for Teaching.
“I tell my students that I can teach them, but I cannot learn them,” Diane says. “Any instructor worth her salt can teach, but the student must be open to that knowledge to really learn. In our profession, knowledge is simply not enough. You must change your very way of being, to integrate that knowledge into the fiber of who you are and use what you learn to care for patients. Tessa totally understood this. Her open, receptive attitude toward learning is what made her a fabulous student.”
Nurses Need ‘Something Extra.’
“Tessa also possessed that ‘something extra’ that all nurses need: a warm and caring heart,” Diane says. “She also has the ability to see the person beyond the illness and connect on the level needed to truly provide top-level nursing care. She was a natural. So, coming full circle—for any teacher, to witness that growth, that change, that transition – to be even a tiny part of that is the sheer joy of teaching.”
A Passion for Compassion.
During nursing school, a classmate turned Tessa on to an opportunity to work at Boulder Community Hospital as a CNA. Tessa started in the oncology unit and was hired as an oncology nurse when she graduated in 2010. That fall, she had an opportunity to join Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, again working on the oncology unit.
A nurturing person by nature, Tessa says she couldn’t imagine working in any other area. “What I love most about oncology is that I get to know my patients very well,” she says. “One of the things I’ve learned especially is perspective. Treating people with cancer has taught me to be so grateful for what I have. These patients can teach you so much if you listen. To have someone share with you the most important thing they’ve learned in life is an honor.”
Paying it Forward and Furthering her Education.
Because of her own experience, Tessa got involved with P.E.O. International, an organization that promotes educational opportunities for women. P.E.O. gave her financial support throughout her own college journey, and Tessa says she wants to pay her gratitude forward.
These days, Tessa is working toward her Oncology Nursing Certification. Next up: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing, which she hopes to start working on in fall 2013. And, no surprise, she plans to take her prerequisites at FRCC.
“Front Range was the best education I could ask for,” Tessa says, adding that her FRCC experience fostered in her a dedication to continuous learning. “I love what I do, and I want to learn everything I can.”