Doctors and nurses use stethoscopes all the time to check the cardiopulmonary sounds of their patients. But the one Angela Read received from her dying mom four years ago continues to make her own heart beat with love for her, and with passion for the nursing field.
Read, a Wallingford resident, recently graduated from Southern with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She participated in the undergraduate commencement ceremony at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
It’s not her first college degree; in 2009, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Eastern Connecticut State University. But it was during a graduation party shortly thereafter that her life changed significantly.
“My mom (April Read) had been diagnosed with lung cancer about halfway through my college career at Eastern,” Read said. “I moved back home and became so involved in her care that I started developing an interest in nursing. At my graduation party, she gave me a stethoscope, and in tears, she told me to give nursing school my all because she knew I’d make a great nurse. She passed away a month later.”
Read then began taking prerequisite classes for SCSU’s nursing program. And in four years, she earned that nursing degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA. That means, all A’s in every course.
“I was determined to prove to my mom and to myself that if I gave it 100 percent like she asked, I could do really well,” Read said. “I couldn’t make any excuses. After all, I figured if she’s looking down on me from above, she can see everything anyway.”
But Read’s path was far from easy. After the passing of her mother, her family and household responsibilities increased significantly. With two siblings – a 13-year-old sister and an 18-year-old brother – she took on most of the duties that her mother had performed. “She was truly a Super Mom. She did all of the cooking, the cleaning, paid the bills, made the doctors’ appointments, took care of the pets and enforced the rules.”
For the next two and a half years, Read added these duties to her day, in addition to being a full-time student. She eventually realized it was an impossible pace to continue. She decided to delegate most of the household duties to her other family members, which enabled her to move out and get an apartment closer to school in January 2012. But to do so, she also had to find a job.
“Between my new job, my classes and my clinical work, there were several nights a week I didn’t get home until after midnight,” Read said. “I felt like I was at my breaking point. I refused to let me grades suffer as I was keeping my promise to my mom and maintain my GPA. But it was at the expense of my health and my relationships with those who mattered most.”
But last summer, Read finally got the break she needed in the form of several scholarships, which collectively covered her tuition. She was able to reduce her work hours so that she could focus more on her classes.
And Read has earned several awards during her SCSU tenure. She was selected as a recipient of the prestigious Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award, which is presented to four students at the university each year who exemplify academic excellence and service to the community and/or university. She coordinates an annual Read Family Fundraiser, which has a theme of “Spread the Word, Not the Smoke.” The proceeds from the fundraiser are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
She will be working as an R.N. in the medical oncology unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital starting in June.