“The nurses and respiratory therapists (during her daughter’s hospitalization) were amazing, never taking us out of the care loop for our daughter,” Lawley said. “Now, I feel it’s time to give back to other Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) families and their babies.” Her goal is to obtain her RN degree then her master’s in nursing and be in a position to provide “the best care that I can to families and their loved ones.”
Lawley will finish her associate degree at South Puget Sound Community College. She will then transfer to Pacific Lutheran University to work toward her bachelor’s in nursing.
As if nursing studies were not enough to occupy her time, Lawley, 34, stays active as a wife and mother of three- and four-year old daughters. She is a Certified Nursing Assistant and was a primary care provider for an elderly individual and now helps care for up to 10 residents at the Mother Joseph Care Center in Olympia.
“There is a tremendous need in providing care here and I love working in this environment,” Lawley said.
While a student at Centralia College, she joined Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college honor society, and served as a tutor in the writing center.
Lawley took a roundabout journey to college. She was born into a military family, lived in Germany, South Carolina, and Victory, Texas, where she graduated high school. While visiting her uncle, who lived in California, she fell in love with the West Coast.
She told herself she wasn’t ready for college. She moved to the Olympia/Lacey area and worked as a veterinarian tech for several years before she joined the army in 2004 and became a signal support specialist and met the soldier who would become her husband. Not too much later she was discharged from the army while her husband continued his military career.
The couple relocated to Rochester where Lawley began to entertain notions of a college education and a career as a nurse. She felt she had a debt to repay.
“A friend told me about Centralia College so I visited the campus and loved it. It’s an intimate campus, easy to find everything. Everyone was so friendly, that really drew me in,” Lawley said. Although new to the campus, she wasn’t treated as a stranger.
She was also impressed with the help she received from her advisor, Dale Carroll. “She was always there for me, very helpful and always willing to listen and I mean really listen. That was very important to me,” Lawley said. “She took the time needed to explain what I needed to know and to answer my questions.”
Centralia College proved to be an important place for Lawley as she moves toward her career goal in nursing. “This is really a good school with really helpful people,” Lawley said. “There’s a lot of diversity among the students and the teachers are willing to listen to all points of view. I appreciate that.”