Mother and daughter graduate nursing program together

Cindy and Ashlee Gatlin prepare to graduate together from the Anderson College of Nursing. The mother and daughter both walked the stage March 13 to receive their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“It’s a pleasure to look over to my right and see my mom walk across the stage with me.”

Mother and daughter Cindy and Ashlee Gatlin graduated together May 13 from the Anderson College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

With Ashlee beginning UNA in fall 2013 and her mother following in spring 2015, they each participated in a different version of the nursing program.

Cindy is already a registered nurse, having earned her associate’s degree in 1999 at what is now West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Peducah, Kentucky, before beginning her career as a mother/baby nurse.

She said because of work and raising her children, she was unable to start her bachelor program until now.

After starting UNA, Cindy remained at her job at Huntsville Hospital while taking online classes through the registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“Over the years, going back to school was not at the top of my list,” Cindy said. “When I went back to school, it (was) a lot of work. (However) it’s doable. If you set your mind to it, you can do anything.”

Cindy said while the bachelor’s degree may not increase her salary, it could better her as a nurse.

“There (are) certain aspects that you don’t get as much in (an) associate’s program,” she said. “Also, if you do want to advance to be a manager or a director, then you have to have a bachelor’s.”

Meanwhile, Ashlee moved on campus to begin classes through the traditional program. She said her mom’s work in nursing is one of the reasons she decided to become one as well.

“I’ve always been really inspired by my mom and her passion for serving others,” Ashlee said.

She said she plans to work in labor and delivery.

While Cindy and Ashlee did not take any classes together, they still had some of the same professors. Laura Williams, associate professor of the Anderson College of Nursing, taught Ashlee once and Cindy twice.

“Both of them are outstanding students,” Williams said. “They both love to learn, (and) they both have had tremendous academic success in their respective programs. They possess the character and dedication to their profession of nursing that all nurses should strive to achieve.”

Nursing instructor Stephanie Mohr said she met Ashlee and Cindy at Nursing Career Day fall 2016, before eventually teaching Ashlee.

“(Ashlee is) a very smart young lady, and she’s going to be an excellent nurse, no doubt,” Mohr said. “(Cindy) seemed to be a super sweet lady just like her daughter. (In my opinion) she’s going to continue to blossom in her nursing career and is obviously already doing very well as a patient care provider.

Mohr said their story relates to a similar experience she had in college.

“My dad graduated the semester before I did,” Mohr said. “It was something special to me to be in college with my parent. So, when I heard (Cindy and Ashlee’s) story, I thought it was something special that needed to be celebrated. It just reiterates how important it is to set an example for our children and for the youth that there’s no age limit on learning.”

Ashlee said after graduating, she plans to work two floors below her mom at Huntsville Hospital and eventually get her master’s degree.

Cindy said despite the hardships, she is proud of herself.

“If I can ever be an encouragement for another mom or just another person that is struggling with that thought of ‘I can’t do it; there’s no way,’ yes, you can,” she said.