IT'S NEVER TOO LATE
Michelle Horton always put her dreams last.
She took care of her kids, helped her husband, and worked late hours to be the mom she wanted to be.
When her youngest child got his driving license, Horton felt something change.
“I kind of felt lost. I’m used to shuffling all these kids around and all these things to do for endless hours of the day, and, all of a sudden, I just felt like I was twiddling my thumbs,” she said.
So Horton took her chance to revive her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse.
As a kid, Horton always was fascinated by everything to do with injury and illness. Horton joked that her mom always told her something was wrong with her.
Horton’s love for medicine started when she was accepted into a certified nursing assistant program in high school and trained to be a firefighter when she was just 17 years old.
Her cousin also had a baby around that time — the first delivery she’d ever been part of — and it sparked her more profound love for obstetrics.
While still in high school, Horton married and moved away from home. When she had her kids, Horton knew she would do everything she could to be there for them.
“Whatever I want needs to be put on the back burner because I want to be a mom. I want to go to their games, and I want to be in their classrooms, and I want to be the mom that goes on field trips,” she remembers thinking then.
Throughout the years, Horton’s husband — her second and current husband, Dan Horton — always encouraged her to return to school. But “there’s no way in heck” that she could fit in school between her responsibilities as a mom and a wife, she said.
Plus, she did enjoy her job at the local grocery store, where she worked for over 25 years.
But when the day came that her kids were grown up, she was ready for a change.
In 2015, Horton decided to take a college placement test. Her daughter had just graduated from high school, too, so they did it together.
Even still, Horton panicked and didn’t think she could do it.
“My daughter — she’s so cute — she was like, ‘Mom, you can do this,’” Horton said. “And I went back, and I finished.”
Horton took it slow at first, with just two classes at a time. It was a big adjustment, and she had to work harder than most, but she did it.
“I took my first college class with my daughter,” she said, “and it just was the cutest, sweetest, most horrible experience ever.”
Horton laughed, thinking about studying with her daughter and asking her to proofread her homework. She was still working full-time, but after four years, Horton made it through her prerequisites.
Then the doubts came about nursing school, but as with everything else, Horton worked hard to make it happen.
On April 30, Horton graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Soon after, she passed her licensure exam and became a registered nurse — seven years after deciding to pursue her dream.
Horton started her new job as a labor and delivery nurse on Aug. 15, at 47 years old.
“It’s never too late. … If you want something bad enough, take one step forward—one step at a time. You can do it. That’s what I tell everybody,” Horton said.
Horton’s neighbor Rich Carson said Horton’s determination “should be an example for many others who think that they cannot get it done.”
And Horton has had similar conversations with coworkers who went back to school — including one who just got accepted into a program to become a doctor.
She told Horton: “You were my inspiration.”