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Mother and Daughter in nursing school

All in the Family:

A Mother and Daughter Share Graceland’s School of Nursing

Jenny Mead ’89 Kramer doesn’t think of herself as a risk-taker. So, last summer when she decided to return to school and enroll in Graceland’s nursing program, Jenny was stepping outside her comfort zone. And when she and husband, Jeff, resigned from their jobs to move closer to Graceland’s Independence campus, Jenny was nervous about the drastic life change they were making.

mother and daughter nursing program“We weren’t sure what we were doing or where we were going,” said Jenny. But six months later, Jeff is steady in his new position as principal at Archie High School, and Jenny has a year left at Graceland’s School of Nursing. The big life change they made is beginning to pay off.

The Path Back to School

Since graduating in 1989 with degrees in Business Administration and Human Services, Jenny worked in the Kansas City Metro, eventually ending up in the small town of Higginsville, MO, where she and Jeff raised their two children, Arielle ’12 and Gage.

mother daughter in nursing programWhen the children left for college, Jenny found herself with an empty nest and a “there’s got to be more than this” feeling. She began toying with the idea of going back to Graceland to major in Nursing. Jenny’s older sisters, Kerri Mead ’74 Booth and Mindy Mead ’76 Day, became Registered Nurses (R.N.s) through Graceland’s School of Nursing, and Jenny has always had an interest in the area, particularly after a hospital stay when a compassionate nurse took some of her personal time to rub lotion on Jenny’s back. Though the field of nursing appealed more and more, hesitations kept Jenny from returning to school.

As Gage and Arielle were contemplating their career paths, Jenny recommended Nursing to them. Arielle, who had been thinking about a degree in Art, found her Science classes on Graceland’s Lamoni campus intriguing and eventually declared a Nursing major.

As Arielle navigated the challenges of Nursing School, it inspired Jenny to take pre-requisite classes for Graceland’s School of Nursing. And when Arielle finished her final semester of Nursing School and prepared to take her NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse, Jenny found herself back in the classroom, following in her daughter’s footsteps.

“I think I was living vicariously through Arielle for a while. She became “Being an ER R.N., you have have that Graceland experi my motivation and now, a few semesters into nursing school, she is my cheerleader,” said Jenny.

Arielle has been helping her mother explore the intricacies of nursing school, including everything from PowerPoint tutorials to “don’t stress” pep talks. The two have even experienced some of the same professors.

“My older sister Mindy had Dr. Voshall as a professor, then Arielle had her, and now I have her. Dr. Voshall has been teaching that long, but her enthusiasm for teaching and her drive to stay current on what’s new in the field persist; she is simply amazing,” said Jenny.

“She became my motivation and now, a few semesters into nursing school, she is my cheerleader."

The Graceland Advantage

As Jenny tackles the rigorous workload of nursing school, Arielle is seeing her hard work pay off. Since graduating last May, she started work as an Emergency Room (ER) R.N. at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, MO.

“Being an ER R.N., you have to be able to work hard, think on toes and have a strong base of knowledge. Graceland’s School of Nursing is challenging and at times the work can be a little overwhelming, but now when I’m out of school and in an area that demands so much, I’m thankful I have that Graceland experience,” said Arielle.

Although Arielle never saw herself as an ER R.N., she says she fell in love with the area during her Capstone at Graceland. The relationships she made during the capstone helped her secure a job immediately after graduation. She noted that Graceland’s program gave her the chance to experience eight different hospitals in the Kansas City Metro, as well as a variety of different areas of nursing, something that prepared her for the workplace.

“In nursing, there are a lot of jobs but there’s also a lot of competition. Something great that Graceland offers is its image: there’s prestige behind going to a private college. Graceland’s professors are both passionate and knowledgeable about the field. You’re given a ton of knowledge in the classroom and then you have so many opportunities in clinicals to apply that knowledge,” said Arielle.

Nursing: A Family Affair

Although Jenny has just begun nursing school and Arielle has hardly started her career, the two say nursing has helped them grow together. “Some stories you have as a nurse can only be appreciated by other nurses, other people that understand the nursing field,” said Arielle. “I knew Arielle was a nurse, and I knew she had a lot of responsibility, but there was one day when I was leaving clinicals at


“She’s not just my little girl: she’s doing big and important stuff in the world.”


Although Arielle never saw herself as an ER R.N., she says she fell in love with the area during her Capstone at Graceland. The relationships she made during the capstone helped her secure a job immediately after graduation. She noted that Graceland’s program gave her the chance to experience eight different hospitals in the Kansas City Metro, as well as a variety of different areas of nursing, something that prepared her for the workplace.

“In nursing, there are a lot of jobs but there’s also a lot of competition. Something great that Graceland offers is its image: there’s prestige behind going to a private college. Graceland’s professors are both passionate and knowledgeable about the field. You’re given a ton of knowledge in the classroom and then you have so many opportunities in clinicals to apply that knowledge,” said Arielle.

Centerpoint, and I knew Arielle was just starting her shift there. There were four police cars and a Life Flight helicopter lined up at the ER, and I was overwhelmed to realize how responsible, grown up, intelligent and capable was she. She was in there, saving lives. She’s not just my little girl: she’s doing big and important stuff in the world,” declared Jenny.

As Jenny continues her clinicals at Graceland , she is still deciding which area of nursing she’ll go into. However, one thing she knows for sure: she loves patient care. In the meantime, Jenny says that her “there’s got to be more” feeling is gone and most of the time she feels she is doing exactly what she should be.

“I’m proud of my mom for going back to school. She left a job she had for over ten years; she left the past behind when it was so comfortable. I’m proud of her for taking a leap of faith and going to nursing school,” said Arielle.

To learn more about Graceland’s Nursing programs, visit www.graceland. edu/nursing.

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