On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, Meghan Ganzaba of Fairfax, Virginia, graduated from Marymount University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, cum laude. For this mother of two boys, ages 7 and 12, the degree comes after years of hardship and signifies better times ahead for her family.
Ganzaba says, “Just three years ago, I couldn’t have pictured myself where I am today.” At the time, the family was living in Michigan. Her husband lost his job with General Motors; then she lost her job, too, and had to drop out of nursing school there. The final blow was losing their home. “Being homeless with two small children was by far the worst experience of my life,” she explains.
Her brother, a DC police officer, suggested that she come to the Washington area where jobs are more plentiful, and that’s what she did a little over two years ago – leaving her family behind for a couple of months as she found a job and started saving for an apartment. Once the family was reunited in a new home, Ganzaba decided that she had to find a way to return to college. “Being a nurse was my dream,” she points out.
Her husband was unable to find work here but did receive a full scholarship for college and is now studying to become an art teacher. Ganzaba had to work full time to support the family but couldn’t abandon her dream of becoming a nurse. She applied to Marymount and was accepted but still didn’t know how she would afford it.
Financial aid was the answer. A Marymount tuition grant and two scholarships – the Rose Benté Lee Nursing Scholarship and the William Randolph Hearst Nursing Scholarship – covered more than half of her expenses, making it possible for Ganzaba to return to college. She continued to work full time as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., while attending Marymount during the day. “There were times when I went days without sleep!” Ganzaba remembers. “When friends would say that they didn’t know how I did it, I replied, ‘You will be surprised what you can do when you have no choice.’”
Faculty support was also important to her success. “I couldn’t have done it without help,” Ganzaba says. “Marymount is a caring community; they keep track of you here. Dr. Shirley Jarecki, my advisor, has been in my corner and really worked with me.”
Ganzaba now looks forward to being an emergency room nurse at a DC hospital. “I told my brother, the DC police officer, ‘When you have people who are injured, send them to me and I’ll patch them up!’”
Ganzaba has set a great example for her boys of perseverance and the value of education. But when she recently asked them if they would like to become nurses, they promptly answered, “Oh no, you work too hard!” Still, when she walked across the stage at DAR Constitution Hall on Mother’s Day, her family was cheering the loudest for their hero.