Ellen Morris-White

Nursing program worth the sacrifice

Ellen Morris-White drives to LaGrange College 47 miles one-way three or four times a week to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, passing by several colleges and universities that offer a four-year nursing program along the way.

It's a sacrifice she doesn't mind one bit.

"When I was looking at going back to college, I looked at a number of colleges in Georgia, and even outside of Georgia," says Ellen, who lives in Tyrone in Fayette County. "What drew me here was that the nursing program has had a 100 percent success rate repeatedly, and when you do research for nursing, that's the first thing you look for."

Every member of the graduating nursing class for the past four years has passed the National Council Licensure Examination, the licensing test for nurses, on the first try. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the average 2012 passing rate was 92.07 percent for students in baccalaureate programs.

When she visited LaGrange College for the first time, she knew that the small-college atmosphere was where she needed to be.

"It was the energy here," she says. "When I was doing my pre-requisites at Georgia public colleges and a nearby technical college, you're in classes with 50 students going in all different directions, not feeling that your paths and interests are someone's priority. But I found that here, and it's hard to find anywhere. Everyone I've had an interaction with on this campus has been helpful. They're not looking the other way hoping you don't ask them questions."

Ellen first began college with an interest in pre-medicine in 1975, but her plans were derailed with a family illness. She took care of multiple relatives, got married, had a son and eventually had a career in medical sales and in the corporate medical field.

While taking care of her ailing mother and balancing a full-time job that required extensive travel, she earned a bachelor's degree in business management and information technology systems in 2006.

Four years later, the medical corporation where she worked restructured and offered her a generous severance package.

"It was the best thing that could have happened to me," she says. "I was the only one in my company to say, 'Great, this is going to be a wonderful opportunity for me.'"

She enrolled in college to earn pre-requisites for a bachelor's degree in nursing immediately after the layoff in 2010.

"Having done a lot of one-on-one care with in-laws and relatives, sometimes I really feel like I've already met that need," Ellen says. "I'm very much interested in public health overall, such as diabetes, childhood obesity or infectious disease control. But I also have a background in IT, so data management and nursing informatics are also appealing.

"And for the last few weeks, we've been doing mental health rotations, and that has really resonated with me," she says, "and I think rural health would be a fit. Every time we cover a new topic in class, I add that to the list."

Ellen is certain she wants to continue her education with a master's degree in her field. In the meantime, she enjoys the perspectives of the different types of students in her nursing classes.

"We have a blend of those who already have degrees, or who have had a working life completely unrelated to nursing and want to do something different, and of course, 19-year-olds in college for the first time," she says. "We also have eight or nine men in a class of 47, so it's so valuable that we have so many different perspectives."

She also immensely enjoys her professors.

"It will be hard to leave this place," Ellen says. "I would take these professors with me everywhere for the rest of my nursing career if I could, not just because we're in similar life stages but because they've had a wonderful effect on me by welcoming and accepting me. Their goal is absolutely on our success."


Friends for the Journey

LaGrange College attracts the best and the brightest from all over the world. For example, our most recent incoming class consisted of men and women from 19 states and 10 countries, and included:

  • 76 members of Beta Club or the National Honor Society
  • 71 members of service organizations
  • 51 team captains in varsity sports
  • 25 leaders involved in student government, with 11 presidents
  • Three students involved in school publications, one as editor
  • Two Eagle Scouts
  • 20 musicians in band or orchestra
  • 18 singers in choir
  • 31 entertainers in performing arts
  • 85 students in religious activities.

But you don’t have to be a star in high school to succeed at LaGrange. Here, you’re given the opportunity to discover the best in yourself and find your destiny – all in a caring and supportive environment.