Photo By Hillary Ehlen
When Miranda Sprung was 19 weeks pregnant with her son Keegan, she learned that he was going to have spina bifida. Keegan was born early at 35 weeks, spent seven weeks in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and Sprung was told he probably would never walk. Now a year and a half old, Keegan is on the path to being able to walk someday and single mother Sprung is three quarters into the ADN program at Rasmussen College.
After her difficult pregnancy and having seen the medical needs of her son, Sprung decided she wanted to become a nurse to help other NICU babies. When Keegan was 10 months old, she enrolled into Rasmussen’s nursing program (ADN). Before becoming a mother, Sprung said that she didn’t have any set life goals and was content living day by day. But through her motherhood journey and her new interest in helping others with similar experiences, her life has changed. “[Keegan’s] my motivation for everything. I want to be able to give him everything. Getting my degree and going to school and becoming a nurse is my way to do that,” she said, adding, “I owe him a lot.”
When Keegan was a newborn, Sprung’s nurse from Cass County’s Nurse-Family Partnership told her about the Jeremiah Program, a program that helps single mothers and their children, two generations at a time. She applied and got accepted to the program and has been living in their new housing for almost a year now. The building has a daycare she can take Keegan to, the cost of living is inexpensive and all of the residents have become family. The support she has received there has helped her with balancing schooling with motherhood.
With similar nursing programs at NDSCS in Wahpeton or UND in Grand Forks, Sprung wanted to stay in her hometown, Fargo, for school. “I think that the Fargo community is so involved and I love that. There are so many opportunities for scholarships and for sponsorships and the schools even work together to help with the community,” said Sprung. She really likes Rasmussen and enjoys the small class sizes that allow for more personalized learning. “I love that Rasmussen has such small class sizes. It’s hard to fall through the cracks and your teachers really hold you accountable,” she said.
At Rasmussen, Sprung could get right into her nursing program and not have to take prerequisites. For the program there, students take their TEA’s exam (the exam you have to take to get into a nursing program) and if they achieve a certain score, they are admitted into the program. No prerequisites or common core courses are needed. “Once you get that score, you’re in the nursing program. So you don’t have to worry about the competition of not making it in. It was really nice that I could start my schooling and ensure that I would make it into the program,” she said.
Being a single mom, this quicker timeline was attractive to Sprung. She is on track to complete the ADA program in seven quarters and to begin her career. “It’s fast-paced, so I’ll be ready to start working sooner which is super big, me being a single mom,” she said.
Despite planning her homework schedule around Keegan’s nap schedule, Sprung has been on the honor roll and Dean’s List every quarter thus far. She currently volunteers at the NICU at Sanford once a week, holding NICU babies and giving them some extra love. She also is in the process of signing a sponsorship with Sanford where they will cover a majority of her schooling costs. In return, she will work for them for two years once she is done with school. Beyond that, she has hopes to become a NICU nurse and eventually a NICU flight nurse.
Despite what other 26-year-olds might see as barriers, Sprung has been thriving, thanks to her own grit and determination, but also with help from the Jeremiah Program and Rasmussen. Before she knows it, Keegan will be walking and she will have her Associate’s Degree in Nursing in hand, ready to serve the community.