by Deb Seminary
Leah Durick always wanted to be a nurse. After high school she moved to Arizona and enrolled in Scottsdale Community College. Becoming a nurse took a little longer than she had planned. “I rarely went to class, I wasn’t really trying much at all,” she said. “However, I worked in the orthopedic unit at a hospital in Phoenix which was great experience.”

After two years Durick moved back to Bismarck and enrolled at BSC. “I decided to try school again,” she said. “But, I still wasn’t putting in the effort I needed to and my transcript reflected it. I ended up quitting school, again.”

During this time Durick was in an on-again off-again relationship. It was during one of the on-again times that she found out she was pregnant. “After the initial shock wore off, it was like a switch went off inside of me,” she said. “It must have been some motherly instinct – I was more motivated, thinking about how things were going to change.

“I went to the Allied Health Building, which houses the nursing school at BSC, and showed someone my transcript. She told me she didn’t know if I would ever be able to get into a program in Bismarck. She said I had to retake all of those classes and have a certain number of successful semesters.”

Durick wasn’t able to enroll until after she had her baby, so one of her first challenges as a mom was to retake all of the classes she had already taken. She started when Olivia was six weeks old. “My first semester I took biology and psychology, I was breast feeding, going to night school and working,” said Durick. “I ended up getting 3 As and 1 B my first semester. That gave me the confidence I needed to keep going, it was just going to be a lot of work. And a lot of time. And a lot of money.”

Each semester she got her GPA up a little higher and finally got her science GPA to a 3.75 and her cumulative to a 3.25. She was able to keep her GPA up and started to apply to nursing schools. She was accepted into the NDSU four year program and started in August of 2014.

Leah and Jordan, Olivia’s father, lived together until Olivia was about 10 months old. “He is a really good dad, really involved in her life,” said Durick. “His family is awesome. I don’t think I could do it without them. His sister, Heidi, watches Olivia while I go to school and treats her like her own. I actually have a hard time considering myself a single mom with the amount of support I get from him and his family as well as my family.”
Durick has lofty goals after graduation. She wants to get her masters in nursing education or enter into the nurse practitioner doctorate program. There are some really good programs locally and she is excited about the possibilities. “I have been working at St. Gabriel’s Community, four to twenty hours a week, depending on my school schedule,” she explained. “I love geriatrics. I think that is what I will do long term. I also look forward to doing the clinical rotations in the different hospital departments, especially OBGYN. I had a great nurse who taught me how to breast feed, she showed me how to give the first bath. I can see myself doing that as well.”

As she juggles class and work schedules, there is, of course, the inevitable. “The number one thing I struggle with is mommy guilt,” said Durick. “With my busy schedule it is really hard to find a balance between work, school and being the mom that she deserves. I with there was more time with Olivia. I know it will get better and this is just short term. I question, ‘am I doing the right thing?’ all the time.”

She also wishes for more moms in her situation to socialize with. “It would be nice to find some other single moms to talk about things and compare notes,” she said.

Durick’s life has changed a lot in the past three years. The birth of Olivia has forced her to make serious decisions which have allowed her to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. They are blessed to have each other.