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MCC Helped Reservist Achieve Her Dream of Becoming a Nurse

November 18, 2018

A family medical emergency rekindled veteran Janine Gerrior D’Eon’s long-dormant desire to become a nurse. She turned to Middlesex Community College to achieve her dream.

Gerrior D’Eon and her husband, Dan D’Eon, met while serving in the Army Reserves. She enlisted during her junior year of college at Bridgewater State University, completing basic training during the summer, then returning to school for her senior year. She then served from 1997 to 2005, and was deployed to Iraq in 2004-05.

Dan D’Eon was deployed in Afghanistan in 2010 and suffered a stroke. He was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for treatment.

“Thankfully, there were minimal residual effects from the stroke,” Gerrior D’Eon said.

Watching the medical team care for Dan sparked Gerrior D’Eon’s longtime dream to become a nurse.

“If he had another stroke, I wanted to know how to care for him,” she said. “I also wanted to know what the doctors were talking about and not just be a family bystander letting somebody else provide care for my husband and make the decisions.”

While at Walter Reed, Gerrior D’Eon told her husband’s nurse-care manager she had always wanted to be a nurse but knew her high-school math grades were not good enough to get into a nursing program.

“That nurse said to me, ‘Don’t you know you have a Post-911 G.I. Bill?’ He told me that’s how he paid for nursing school, but I had never heard of it.”

A few weeks later, when Gerrior D’Eon got back to Massachusetts, she went to the Veterans Administration to learn about her G.I. Bill education benefits. She looked into a variety of nursing programs before deciding to enroll at Middlesex.

“MCC seemed to have the best program with great reviews,” she said. “I signed up, was placed on a waiting list, and knocked out my prerequisites while I waited to get into the Nursing program.”

The catch? She would have to face her high-school nemesis -- algebra. But this time, she was no kid lacking confidence. She was a trained soldier who had faced opposition much fiercer than a bunch of coefficients and exponents.

For example, in December 2003 -- just a couple of months after her husband had come home from a yearlong deployment in Cuba -- Janine was deployed to Afghanistan. Their daughter, Emily, was just a baby.

“Emily was 10 months old when I left,” she said. “When I came home, she had just celebrated her second birthday. I got to come home for a 10-day leave when she was 19 months old, and she didn’t want anything to do with me. She didn’t know who I was anymore. That was extremely difficult.”

Gerrior D’Eon knew if she got through that challenge, she could take on algebra. This time, she aced the course, earning an A.

She balanced family life with nursing school by taking one class a week in the evenings and participating in clinicals on the weekends.

“There is an intimate connection with the professors at Middlesex,” she said. “The classes are smaller, and the professors are so knowledgeable. They get to know each student and really reach out and help you learn.”

D’Eon graduated from MCC in 2016 and took the NCLEX national nursing-licensing exam. She is a registered nurse on the acute-care floor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, N.H. She and her husband live in Pepperell, now a Pepperell police officer, and their three kids ages 15, 12, and 9.

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