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Mother, Daughter Duo Pursue Nursing Degrees at SUNY Plattsburgh

People of Plattsburgh

rebeccah and kaylynn in scrubbsA mother and daughter from the Capital Region plan to walk the stage with nursing degrees from SUNY Plattsburgh in the same 2025 commencement ceremony.

Rebeccah Ryan of Schaghticoke, N.Y., is enrolled in the online RN-to-B.S.N. program. Her daughter, Kaylynn Ryan, is a junior in the first-year entry nursing program.

“Completing my B.S.N. opens so many doors and opportunities,” Rebeccah said. “Above all, completing my B.S.N. is something I’ve always wanted to accomplish.”

‘They Radiated Kindness’

Sarah Charles, assistant professor of nursing, said one of her favorite moments from this past semester was when she collaborated with Kaylynn and Rebeccah via Zoom.

 “It was so nice to see Kaylynn supporting her mom and vice versa. They radiated kindness. It was a great conversation, and I felt so excited that they were taking this journey together.”

sarah charlesCharles had Kaylynn in three classes: nursing foundations, pathophysiology and pharmacology.

“Kaylynn is professional, kind and inquisitive. She actively listens and engages in class — asks questions for clarification and has formed a close cohort of students who work well together to achieve their goals,” Charles said. “She is a bright spark and a delight to have in class.”

Charles’ pedagogy has resonated with Kaylynn.

“She has great teaching techniques and a unique way of helping us learn the material. Professor Charles wants nothing more than for her students to succeed, and she always reminds us that we will be amazing nurses.”

‘Different Pathways to a Bachelor’s Degree’

While completing her degree, Rebeccah works part time as a registered nurse care manager.

“I am thankful to be a part of a program that recognizes that each student has their own pathway to their bachelor’s degree and that there are different options to navigate that pathway based on the student’s goals, commitments and life circumstances,” Charles said.

“The RN-to-B.S. program is specifically designed for currently practicing nurses,” she said. “There is flexibility as to when you attend class and where you attend class as it is all online. This allows students to maintain their full-time work commitments while engaging in their academic journey.”

Rebeccah said juggling academic, work and family responsibilities is a balancing act.

“It is not always easy, but I am very determined to do my best and complete my education.”

Associate Professor of Nursing Jill Folsom is Kaylynn’s academic adviser.

“Jill is also a great person to talk to. She always reminds me to never stress out about my grades and that I am heading in a positive direction,” Kaylynn said. “I am so grateful to have someone guiding me.”

jill folsom“The world is in need of nurses at all levels,” Folsom said. “To be able to be part of a program that provides the education that is needed in a manner that fits the lifestyle of both traditional students and those who are adding to their education while practicing the profession is a great feeling.”

Folsom said that nurses can remain in the workforce while completing degrees like the online RN-to-B.S. at SUNY Plattsburgh. This is a small thing that can help units stay fully staffed, putting a bit less stress on the health care system, she said.

‘Empathy and Compassion’

Rebeccah’s experience in the health care field started at 16 when she started work in the dietary department of a nursing home, eventually working up to dietary supervisor.

“It was a great job, and I learned so much,” she said.

After working there for six years, Rebeccah became a certified nursing assistant and started working the night shift at a different nursing home in Cohoes, N.Y.

In 2011, she graduated with a two-year degree in nursing.

“I picked nursing because I have empathy and compassion to want to work with people and help them in any way that I can. I care for others and feel that even if it is a small contribution at the time, I can listen and help,” Rebeccah said. “It is totally worth every moment being by someone’s side, knowing that you are trying to make a difference. I care for my patients as I would care for my own family.”

She cared for both of her parents for more than two years while they both had stage four cancer.

Rebeccah has an interest in pursuing hospice nursing after graduation, she said.

“(My parents) both were placed in hospice, and I enjoyed learning from the hospice nurses, and what a special calling.”

‘Can’t Wait to Be Just Like Her’

Kaylynn said watching her mother care for her grandparents impacted her personally and will shape her future career.

“Watching her go through this showed me what it truly means to be a great nurse, and I can’t wait to be just like her,” she said.

Seeing her mom care for others both in her career and life helped guide her to a helping profession like nursing, Kaylynn said.

little kaylynn and rebeccah“My mom was a huge inspiration to this decision. My mom is a very compassionate person and will always go above and beyond to help others. I’ve always aspired to be like that.”

In high school, Kaylynn said she benefitted from shadowing experiences, which helped deepen her interest in the field.

‘Helping Each Other’

Rebeccah said that studying the same subject in college with her daughter is a joy.

“I love listening to her talk about her class schedules, her professors, clinical rotations and upcoming tests she has. I remember what it was like going through a lot of it (during my two-year degree),” Rebeccah said.

Since the two are in programs with a separate format, though, there hasn’t been much opportunity to study together for specific exams, but each has shared her areas of expertise with the other.

“At the beginning of this past semester, she walked me through how to hang a primary and secondary IV drip over FaceTime to prepare for my performance test,” Kaylynn said. “She has been able to give me plenty of advice and tips for hands-on nursing skills since she has so much experience.”

Rebeccah said her daughter showed her how to create her first PowerPoint presentation.

“Sometimes, she would look over a paper for me and make sure my font was right, or the general look of it was correct. Kaylynn is a great resource as she has been doing this longer than I have, and she’s very smart, and it is nice to have another set of eyes looking at your work for improvements,” Rebeccah said.

“The RN-to-B.S.N. online program differs in many ways from what she does, but at some point, our paths will cross at the same time together,” Rebeccah said.

‘Walk the Stage Together’

After the Ryans are finished with all their classes, exams, papers and clinical experiences, crossing the stage together will make the achievement more meaningful for them both, they said.

“Having my mom in the same nursing program is something I never thought we’d get to experience together, so I am very grateful for this opportunity,” Kaylynn said. “I am very excited for my mom because finishing her nursing degree is something she has always wanted to do, and now it is even more special because we get to do it together.”

“She did share jokingly with me that I am raining on her parade for graduation day, but I know how excited she is. I am so very proud of her, and I can’t wait to walk on that stage with her and see the excitement in her eyes,” Rebeccah said.

— Story, Photo of Sarah Charles by Assistant Director of Communications Felicia Krieg

— Other photos provided

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