Returning student thrives at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City

A woman who is headed for a nursing career credits much of her success to her academic adviser at OSU-OKC.
BY KANDACE TAYLOR and JANA FOSTER Published: February 23, 2013
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For many adults, returning to school is difficult with numerous obstacles to overcome. For Heather McElwain, a 38-year-old single mother and Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City student, the hindrances turned into opportunities that are making her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse a reality.

As someone who hadn't been to school in 20 years, McElwain worried about beginning the coursework to become a nurse. She often questioned herself but found encouragement in being a good example for her 18-year-old son.

She said academic adviser Kenneth Chapman helped her get started on the right path.

“I probably would have turned around and left if I had not had him as an adviser,” McElwain said. “He made it easy, and he's always been there.”

McElwain took 12 hours her first semester and made straight As, which led to her induction into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Her academic success also led to a rekindling of her relationship with her mother, who worked in health care for many years.

“She's extremely proud and can't wait for me to graduate,” McElwain said.

Chapman, who said he believed in her from the beginning, has been moved by McElwain's story.