Mississippi nursing student opens up about juggling school, a job and caring for her family

By Meagan Mobley
Originally published by Oxford Stories
mmmobley@go.olemiss.edu

Kelsei King studies material at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia. (Photo: Meagan Mobley, Oxford Stories)

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question commonly asked of children and students. But the question should really be, “How will you become who you want to be?”

Kelsei King, 21, is working to become a traveling nurse. She is a full-time nursing student at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, plus a part-time waitress and babysitter.

“Each day is a challenge,” she said. “I’ve had to learn balance. Balance is key.”

King’s days are busier than the average student’s. She begins each morning at 6 a.m. with a 20-minute run to help her mentally and physically prepare for the day. After her run, she eats breakfast and reviews her notes from the previous day before making the commute from Memphis to Senatobia. 

Being a nursing student is challenging. There is a lot of pressure on future nurses and doctors. King heads straight to the library after class and usually spends about three to four hours studying each day.

“I am in class from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. each day,” she said. “We spend the entire class period learning new information. I’ve never studied this much in my life.”

King creates diagrams, study guides and flash cards to help her study. She said testing in nursing school is different than testing in any other major.

“The answer choices are basically all right,” she said. “You just have to pick the best right answer.”

Sometimes, the nursing program requires King to come to the Baptist Hospital in Oxford or Le Bonheur in Memphis. This is called a clinical in the world of nursing students.

“Clinical is my favorite part,” she said. “It lets me have a sneak peek of my future. I spend six weeks in the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and six weeks in Baptist.”

Colleague Taylor Jones said King has skills, personality and heart.

“She is truly an inspiration [to] the rest of us,” she said. “She just has what it takes. If anyone has it down, it is Kelsei King.”

King has learned to appreciate her education more than your average student. “I’ve had to put myself through college,” she said. “I have a job aside from going to school, and I’ve paid for my education since the beginning. It has taught me the true meaning of the word ‘hustle.’”

The hustle is real, indeed. Her days are full of studying, driving and several other demands. Once her work is done at school, King heads back to Memphis to pick up her little sister. She usually has about two hours to spare once she gets home, so she prepares dinner. 

Her days are busy, but she tries to make time for her loved ones and her own health. Once she is done taking care of her sister and relaxing for a brief moment, she begins to get ready for her shift at Corky’s in Olive Branch.

“I’m still learning time management,” she said. “I keep a planner and set alarms on my phone that go on throughout the day to keep me on track. I’m always on the go, but it keeps me on my toes.”

The life of a full-time nursing student and part-time waitress can be exhausting, but King manages to stay on top of it all and is always ready for what life will throw at her. She works hard every day and doesn’t let the daily routine get her down. She is passionate about what she does.

“Stay on your grind,” she said. “Keep going. Keep pushing on. Most importantly, remember what you’re doing it for. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. You have to have purpose for it. If you don’t have that, you don’t have anything,”

King has two semesters left of nursing school before she moves on to the University of Memphis to earn her master’s degree. She is headed toward success and doesn’t plan on taking her eyes off of the prize.

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