WCSU Nursing student Emily Benson
Sometimes, achieving your dreams can involve a detour that still gets you to your desired destination. At 28, New Milford resident Emily Benson is older than most of her classmates in Western Connecticut State University’s Class of 2024. A Nursing major who will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), Benson is proof that determination and putting forth the effort will lead you to accomplish your goals.
When she was a student at Oliver Wolcott Technical High School in Torrington, Benson pursued an automotive technician track since her father was a mechanic and it was an occupation that was familiar to her. Deep down, however, she knew it wasn’t how she wanted to spend her life. Benson said, “I have always liked taking care of people and instinctively wanted to be a nurse, so I applied to WCSU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.” Unfortunately, she was not accepted on her first attempt, which prompted her mother to bring home a flier with information about local classes to become either a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
Benson took the EMT training route, and also enrolled as a pre-Nursing student at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, which she attended part time while building her career as an EMT. Today, she works full time for New Milford Ambulance and as EMS Captain for the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department as a licensed EMT.
After relocating from Torrington to New Milford and with around 15 college credits under her belt, Benson applied again to WCSU’s Nursing program. “I decided to go for a B.S.N. instead of the associate degree that I would have received from Northwestern Connecticut Community College,” Benson said. “I was accepted and the credits I had accrued transferred over.”
Benson arrived on campus as a commuter student in fall 2020, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic, her first classes were conducted online. Since then, she’s been able to take classes in-person and have access to WCSU’s hands-on Nursing Simulation Labs. This semester, she’s doing her clinical rotation at Waterbury Hospital. Next semester, her last before graduating, her course work will involve a lot of preparation for the nursing licensure exam, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
“One of the reasons I wanted to come to WCSU was because I had heard its students have good pass rates on the NCLEX,” Benson said. “For me, the test will be very similar to the EMT exam. I’m going to do my best and study, and next semester will include a lot of classes to prep for that.”
NCLEX scores for WCSU students who pass on their first attempt are 91.14%.
Looking ahead to her graduation this spring, Benson said, “Younger me would be very proud of current me. It’s surreal, and I feel like I’ve been in school so long that it’s hard to believe I’m almost done.”
After graduation, Benson hopes to work in an ICU as a critical care nurse. Beyond that, her 10-year plan includes returning to college to pursue an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) degree in acute critical care, and she’s already investigating WCSU’s program.
For other high school students who may not receive acceptance to their desired major on their first application attempt, Benson says, “If you know what you want to do, just pursue it. Nursing school is hard, but if you apply yourself and put in the time and effort, it’s definitely doable. The professors at WCSU are great and really help you out if you’re struggling. Ten years ago, when I didn’t get in, I had a supportive family and now I’m here, getting ready to graduate.”
Western Connecticut State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN to B.S., a Master of Science in Nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice and an Ed.D. in Nursing Education. Next spring, once State Board of Nursing approval is received, it will also offer an Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing (AbiN), that will prepare second career students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, to be able to complete the remaining nursing classes within 13 months, thanks to a CT Health Horizons grant.
For more information, contact Dr. Jeanette Lupinacci, chair of the WCSU Department of Nursing, at email@example.com or WCSU Communications and Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org.