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Donna McClusky-Bryant is a nurse who believes in giving 100 percent to any endeavor she undertakes. Her passion for nursing began at the age of 16, when she was hired as a full-time nurse’s aide.
After graduating from high school, Donna became a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and earned her associate degree in nursing (ADN). In 1987, she began working toward her bachelor’s degree with SIUE's School of Nursing.“I chose SIUE because I knew it was a quality program,” Donna said. "At that time, they brought the program to southern Illinois in Carbondale, Marion and Mt. Vernon, Ill. There was a small cohort of us that completed the program together,” said Donna, a native of Harrisburg, Ill. and a longtime resident of Carbondale, Ill. Her drive to succeed aided her in completing her degree four years later in 1991, while raising two young children and working part-time.
In the same way that Donna expects much of herself, she has always encouraged her children to excel, as well. Her oldest daughter, Heather Bryant-Clark, inherited Donna’s work ethic and was inspired by the passion she held for her profession. “I knew whatever I did, I wanted to love it the way my mom loved nursing,” said Heather. “I also knew I wanted to go to SIUE.”
As luck would have it, Heather realized she wanted to follow in her mom’s footsteps the same year the School of Nursing opened their regional program on the Carbondale campus. She joined the inaugural class in the fall of 2009.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Heather knew she wanted to continue her education, but was nervous to begin. When Donna encouraged her, Heather had an idea. “I suggested she earn her master’s with me,” said Heather. “She agreed to apply if I applied, and we made each other follow through.”
Now in their first year of graduate school together, Donna and Heather are grateful to be sharing this opportunity. “She keeps me motivated and I try to do the same for her, push her,” said Heather.
Donna works as a graduate assistant in the SIUE School of Nursing office on the Carbondale campus and Heather is an emergency room nurse for Carbondale Memorial Hospital. Though balancing work, school and life at home can be tricky, both women embrace the challenge. “The SIUE School of Nursing really thought of everything for this program,” said Donna. ”While they won’t hold your hand, they really want you to succeed. I would highly encourage anyone considering a master’s in nursing from SIUE to go for it. I could not have asked for a better experience.”