Nighthawk Shares Advice for Other Students Who Are Parents, Too!

December 15, 2023

Yaa Anim was one of many parenting students who attended NOVA's second annual Student Parent Conference to learn about resources available for students who are juggling parenthood while going to school.


Yaa, who is pursuing a nursing degree, chose NOVA because of its widely known nursing program, and she’s already working in the medical field at a Northern Virginia hospital. In fact, it was her colleagues who saw something in her. Impressed by Yaa’s work, they knew she would make an incredible nurse and encouraged her to go to school. 

Yaa will tell you that it’s not easy having a two-year-old child, working and going to college. At times, it can feel overwhelming. Although she took a break from her college education several times, she has refused to give up on her dream. Yaa notes that her “cheerleaders” supported her through difficult times. Now, she encourages other student parents to keep pressing on.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Although I was born in the United States, I am of African descent. My parents are from Ghana. I have a two-year-old, and I’m in my second year at NOVA. I graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 2009.

I have been working at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital for five years, and my colleagues have been encouraging me to become a nurse.

I started as the unit secretary, and everybody told me, “You know what you’re doing; why don’t you keep going?” So I became a CNA (certified nurse aide). But then I returned to my secretary position. 

Even after returning to work as a unit secretary, I was still doing my CNA work. My colleagues were telling me, “Why don’t you go to school for nursing? You’ll be great at it.”

I did my first semester at NOVA, and it wasn’t going too well. I thought, 'You know what, let me take a break.' Then I went back to school. It was like, take a break, go back, take a break. It was a stop-and-go process for me. So, finally, I am back — and I can’t stop. I’m very grateful to be back, and I will not stop this time! I’m not in the nursing program yet. I’m still finishing my prerequisites. 

What brought you to NOVA?
They had a program at my high school, and that's how I got to know NOVA. The program helped me a lot with the transition from high school. The service was excellent—from financial aid to everything else was great.

Tell us about your experience at NOVA (i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met). 
They’ve all been helpful, the professors. They answer your questions, and they respond in a timely manner. It’s excellent.

What’s it like working, going to school and being a parent?
It can be a handful at times; but in the end, it’ll be worth it! While I’m in school, my mother takes care of my daughter and even offers to watch her when I have to study. My mother is very supportive. She always tells me, 'Keep pushing on. You can do this. Don’t ever give up. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.' 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?
My advice to other student parents is this: just because you have a child, don't let that stop you from pursuing your goals. Don’t give up. Keep pushing through. I stopped school several times because I didn’t think I could do it. But with words of encouragement from different people — from work, from family, from everybody — it’s always, 'Keep going, keep going!'

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?
After becoming a nurse, I will definitely work at Inova (Inova Mount Vernon Hospital). Every day, my colleagues ask if I’ve finished school. I tell them, 'I’m not quite there yet, but I’ll get there!'

It was during COVID that I realized I wanted to become a nurse. It happened while I was helping out with patient care at the hospital. Now I believe in myself, and I recognize that nursing is my true calling, my passion. It’s a gift. 

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