HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania -- When Winfred Fox walks across the stage at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex this month, the “40-something” will be celebrating the accomplishment of one lifelong dream while already looking toward another.
Fox is among the 900 students who will graduate from HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, during Commencement on Dec. 14, 2014. She has earned an associate degree in nursing.
Her ongoing dream is to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Eastern Mennonite University’s Lancaster campus, where she’ll begin classes in February 2015. From there, Fox plans to pursue a master’s degree in nursing – and then eventually return to Kenya to establish health clinics, train local nurses and conduct other mission work in her small village of Njugu in Meru South District, Eastern Province of Kenya.
Fox’s mother is her biggest hero: “She taught me by her own example how to become an excellent nurse. She never went to nursing school but she was a nurse in the village where there was no doctors. She spent her free time looking after others, and went an extra mile to ease other people’s sufferings.”
Fox came to Lancaster in fall 2008 with the help of a pastor friend, the Rev. Randy Iggs, whom she met through missionary work in her village. “Best decision I made,” Fox said. “It feels homey, is a friendly community and has important services such as college, shopping and public transportation.”
Fox enrolled at HACC’s Lancaster Campus, earning her practical nursing certificate in December 2011 and became a licensed practical nurse.
“I decided to go to HACC because of the variety of class time choices. I have worked throughout school,” said Fox, who continues to work at Landis Homes Retirement Community near Lititz. Affordability also played a role in her decision, with finances her biggest challenge to attending college. “Finances have always gotten in my way to finishing as soon as I wanted to,” she said.
“Keeping up with the pace in nursing school” also was a challenge but one that “is a universal feeling among nursing students, especially non-traditional students.” Once at HACC, she found helpful professors throughout her schooling and made good use of the tutoring center.
Her one piece of advice for an individual trying to choose a college is to “definitely start at a community college. You will not go wrong starting at HACC. There is plenty of guidance to avoid pitfalls of spending time and finances in areas you are not interested in.”
When she isn’t studying, attending to clinical requirements or working at Landis Homes, Fox helps out with rebuilding her elementary school in Kenya. “I am raising funds to fix leaking roofs on classrooms, mounting windows, cementing muddy floors and providing important items like desks, books and pens.”
She added, “My goal is to work with the students, parents and teachers to provide safe classrooms where children can comfortably study without distractions and the discomfort of severe weather conditions.”
Looking to the future, Fox says that “education for the poor and the less privileged” matters most to her. “If we can educate the poor, then we solve a lot of global health issues. There are many medical conditions associated with poverty and ignorance, and they could be avoided.”
Her greatest personal achievement thus far is “becoming a registered nurse in my 40s and still having the motivation to go further!”