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Nursing Alumna Comes Full Circle, Teaches Future Nurses and Inspires Daughter

Bridget Ganey had worked behind the scenes in healthcare for years, but a different dream began to emerge during the labor and delivery of her first child. According to Bridget, “The compassion, sacrifice, and support of the nurses who helped me during childbirth was instrumental. It made me decide that one day I wanted to become a nurse so I could help others in the same way.”

As her family grew, she tucked her own dreams away in order to focus on those of her children. Twenty years later, as a single mom with three children and working as a nursing tech, Bridget decided to enroll in the Polk State Nursing Transition Program. She felt incredibly fortunate to be awarded a scholarship through the Foundation: “The scholarship funds went towards tuition and books, which really helped my family. It definitely made a big difference.”

Bridget graduated with her Polk State Associate in Science in Nursing in 2015. While garnering her dream job as a nurse at Winter Haven Hospital, she continued her studies, earning the Polk State Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2018. She was also recognized as the hospital’s 2018 Nurse of the Year, a high honor received after only two years in her new position.

Today, Bridget works in the Medical/Surgical ICU at Winter Haven Hospital. Her training at Polk State prepared her for critical care that is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her fellow nurses are incorporating increased safety protocols at work, and the nursing role has expanded as they assist patients during a time when loved ones are not allowed to visit.

During the crisis, Bridget and her team have been overwhelmed with support from the community. “It has been challenging to stay positive while worrying about patients and my own family’s safety, but the love that the community has shown our profession has been amazing!”

With her dream of becoming a nurse fulfilled thanks to help from Polk State Foundation generous donors and the College’s incredible Nursing faculty, Bridget now works to train future nurses, serving as a Clinical Instructor for the Polk State Nursing Program.

The compassion, sacrifice, and support that drew Bridget to the nursing profession is what has also inspired her daughter, Lexi, to pursue the same dream. Lexi, a student of the Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School Program, has persevered through the transition to online learning in both her high school and College courses, and will graduate with her Polk State Associate in Arts degree and high school diploma simultaneously in May. As for so many graduates across the country, she will sadly miss having a formal ceremony for either achievement. Still, she is already looking forward to continuing her pathway at Polk State so that she can also pursue a career as a registered nurse.

Bridget recognizes the full-circle importance of this moment. “With support from the Polk State College Foundation, I’ve been able to achieve my dream of becoming a nurse and provide stability in my family. Now I can help support my daughter in fulfilling her dreams. I especially want to thank the many donors who support Nursing Program scholarships. The Foundation is such a blessing for innumerable students (and their families) in countless ways. I will be forever grateful.”