A sunny outlook can take you a long way, no matter where or at what point of life you begin, says McKenzie Connors of the MSN: Entry into Nursing Practice program. For Connors, it began early, in the scenic old mill town of Uxbridge, MA. “Growing up I was told, and it made a world of difference: Always be yourself. Appreciate others for who they are. And be proud of who you are, whatever that is,” she says.
Later, at Teach for America, it led her to confidently “check the box” that meant working with students with special needs—many with emotional disabilities—in grades 6 to 10. She loved it.
It lit her path to a master’s at George Mason University, where she later volunteered as a research assistant on a study of inmates that sought ways to put troubled lives back on track. And as a DC bartender, she met her share of characters. She embraces the good in all. “I don’t ever look at somebody like there’s something wrong with them,” Connors explains. “All of our experiences make us who we are, and even bad experiences can always be turned to a positive, an opportunity for growth.”