From Teacher to Nurse

Palestine Student Follows Daughter’s Footsteps

Publication Date: 05/12/2020

Michelle Atkeisson of Fairfield wasn’t always interested in becoming a nurse. After nearly 22 years as a high school biology and science teacher, she changed careers – all thanks to her daughter.

A self-proclaimed lifelong learner and “science nerd,” Atkeisson learned about nursing through her oldest daughter, who made her way through college and the rigors of nursing school.

Atkeisson“After she graduated, I kept pestering her with questions about her experiences as a trauma nurse,” Atkeisson said. “I was fascinated by the knowledge she was gaining and by the idea of using real critical thinking skills to actually save a life. Finally, she said, ‘Mom, if you love this so much, you need to do it for yourself!’ And so, I did.”

Still, Atkeisson thoroughly pondered over the potential life-changing decision. After much consideration and prayer; and with her family’s support, Atkeisson entered UT Tyler’s BSN program at the Palestine Campus, which offered a challenging curriculum, quality labs and a small faculty-student ratio.

“With my history in education, I knew that smaller classes and more accessible staff translate into real relationships with both classmates and instructors, and that is definitely the case in Palestine,” she said. “We know our professors, and more importantly, they get to know us. They are very invested in our success and our growth into nurses, and it shows on a daily basis.”

As a non-traditional student, Atkeisson also appreciates the diversity she found at the Palestine Campus.

“Students’ ages range from 18 years old to old enough to have 18-year-old kids,” she said. “Many of us have children, and some are about to have their first grandchildren. This is not my first degree, and I’m not alone. The diversity in life experiences is such an asset.”

Upon graduation, Atkeisson plans to follow in her daughter’s footsteps and become a hospital trauma unit nurse.

When she isn’t studying, Atkeisson is caring for the numerous animals she and her husband own on their farm. She also enjoys traveling and spending time with family.