Nurse fulfills a commitment to herself by earning BSN

Jennifer Johnson poses in an ASU scrub cap next to an IV machine. She's wearing blue scrubs and smiling at the camera

Jennifer Johnson, a registered nurse from Minnesota, has been working in hospitals for years but always wanted to return to college to earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing.


The decision to go back to school as a working adult is complex. There’s your day job and family to consider, which program to choose, as well as the cost. And sometimes, even when you get all of that sorted out, life just gets in the way.

This was the case for Jennifer Johnson.

The 47-year-old registered nurse from Minnesota has been working in hospitals for years but always wanted to return to college to earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing.

“I thought if I ever want to move up and get any sort of leadership position, I need to finish my four-year degree,” Johnson said. 

After a series of starts and stops in other programs and a serious health scare she decided it was time to fully commit to achieving this personal and professional goal. But where she was going to accomplish it was still up in the air, until a trip to Arizona to visit her parents.

Johnson says she’d driven by Arizona State University’s Tempe campus many times over the years during these trips and always thought it was a really cool campus. During this particular visit, she also noticed an ASU Online billboard.

“I came home and sorta forgot about it. But then I saw another ASU Online billboard, in Minnesota and I thought, this is a sign,” said Johnson.

She called to find out more information about the RN-BSN program at the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and within a matter of weeks, she was enrolled.

“When you’re an older student, you’re all about the brick and mortar, so initially I was really worried you know, am I going to be able to do this? Those fears dissipated with the first class. All the puzzle pieces came together and it was awesome.”

That was in 2016, Johnson graduated with her BSN in December 2018, was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, and presented her BSN capstone project at the Sigma Creating Healthy Environments seminar in New Orleans in February 2019.

“I do feel like what I’ve learned at school has changed my way of treating people, I look at them more holistically now. It also changes how you think and how you feel about what you’re doing to help you grow and develop. Now I can see how I would be in any sort of management or leadership position.”

Not only did she fulfill the promise she made to herself to complete her four-year degree, but she also met a lot of great people along the way, including her mentor, Heidi Sanborn, director of the RN-BSN and CEP programs.

“I feel like I would not be here today, who I am without this program and definitely not without her,” said Johnson.

Her time at ASU is not over, the alumna is also a current graduate student. Johnson enjoyed the RN-BSN program and the ASU Online experience so much that she decided to continue on, enrolling in the Master of Healthcare Innovation program.

“The support I got from ASU was a lot better than I got at the brick and mortar schools and because those professors believed in me and gave me honest and constructive feedback, I started to believe in myself more.”

Now, she’s paying that support forward, offering encouragement for anyone on the fence about returning to school.