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Thursday, 11 July 2013 15:49

Never Say Never: Chasing a Lifelong Dream

By Chelsea DiSchiano | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Being rejected is an experience that most everyone goes through at some point in their lives—whether from a school, a job, a person or a team. Some people give up on their dreams when they are knocked off their feet by the crushing blow of the word “No.” Some people get defeated and are afraid to try again.

Terry Bedard is not one of those people. 

After being rejected from nursing school fresh out of high school, Bedard instead got married and had children, spending her 20s focusing on being a wife and mother. But by the time her kids were in middle school, her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse still sat quietly in the back of her mind.

Determined to make her dream a reality, Bedard applied to Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing and was accepted in an associate’s program, the first step on her way to become a registered nurse. 

“As my kids were doing cheerleading and baseball and soccer, I would be sitting with my little flashcards out,” Bedard remembered. “I’d be studying and watching and say, ‘Yay, good goal!’ and then have to go back to my cards.” 

With the help of family and friends, Bedard was able to complete her RN degree by age 33 in 1991. She began her career as a nurse at Samaritan Hospital, then became a nurse manager at the former CHP Community Care and the Bone and Joint Center in Albany before heading to Saratoga Hospital 11 years ago, where Bedard now works as the Director of Same Day Surgery and Endoscopy. She currently heads three departments and oversees 65 employees. 

Though she had successfully fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a certified nurse years ago, Bedard wasn’t finished learning. With monetary help and support of her mentors at Saratoga Hospital, Bedard continued her higher education to complete her bachelor’s degree before more recently earning her Master of Science in Nursing and Systems Management at Excelsior College, an accomplishment that will be recognized when she walks the stage at her graduation today.

“I’m just so proud of myself because I was committed to higher education and lifelong learning,” Bedard said. “I know my family is very proud of me and they’ll all be there, and to share that with them is important so I’m very excited.”

Bedard said that though she made it to the finish line, there were plenty of challenges to overcome along the way, including raising her children, working full-time at the hospital and completing her schoolwork through distance learning classes.

“I can remember one time it was 11 p.m. and I was finishing a paper and I looked up, and I didn’t have it saved, and the power went down,” Bedard remembered with a laugh. “And I remember I cried, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore,’ and everybody has that moment.” 

But there were even bigger challenges Bedard had to face than lost papers.

“At one point my mother had cancer, and she ended up passing away,” Bedard said. “So I did take a year off while she was going through that with the family. There are times when you have to defer [school] again and then you go back on, but it was important enough for me to want to finish because it was something that I had always wanted to do.”

Bedard attributed much of her success at Excelsior to her family members, co-workers and mentors at the hospital. 

“I never would have made it through without them,” Bedard admitted. “My family and friends would watch my kids while I ran to clinicals and that type of thing. I don’t think any mature adult can get through without any support from family and friends.”

The resources that Saratoga Hospital was able to provide were also an immense help, Bedard said.

“They promote lifelong learning so much here at Saratoga Hospital—I can’t talk about that enough,” Bedard said. “Our facility here offers monetary and coaching support and guidance, so I’ve been here 11 years and have been in school 11 years.”

Continuing, Bedard said she is excited to finally be able to focus more on her family again.

“I’m 57 years old but I never would have made it through without everybody—my husband, my kids, my grandchildren,” she said. “They would always say, ‘Memaw, do you have another paper to write?’ So my papers are done and it’s time that I can start enjoying my grandkids a little more. I’m very excited to be completing this and walking across the stage.”

Not only will her new degree open up many more doors of opportunity for her, but Bedard said she has been given the chance to lead by example and to be a role model to others pursuing their higher education. 

“I think in some way I have helped [my employees]—they see me in school and now I have quite a few members of my staff that have gone back to school for their Bachelors or Masters, so I’ve been able to guide and coach them along the way too,” Bedard said. “So I think I lead by example and I’m able to help them.”

Bedard added that though it’s a long journey, she would advise anyone thinking about going back to school to give it a try.

“Never say never,” Bedard said. “I have staff going back to school in their ’50s—just give it a try. You never know! If I can do it, anybody can do it. It’s never too late.”

 

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