Couple shares experience of attending nursing school together at Concordia University Ann Arbor

Joe Wright and Beckah Bottorff. (Concordia University Ann Arbor)

Traveling across the country, transferring to a new university and transitioning into a new nursing program are major changes over a long period of time.

Yet Joe Wright (’22) and Beckah Bottorff (’22) did all of this over the last two years. But the best part? They did it together.

Back in the spring of 2020, Concordia University-Portland sadly had to close its doors, leaving many students in search of a new university. Wright and Bottorff had just received their acceptance into nursing school at Concordia Portland. However, since the school closed, they tried to find a competitive program.

They also wanted a place they could easily transfer their credits and had a welcoming set of faculty and students.

Enter Ronald & Marvel Jones School of Nursing at Concordia University Ann Arbor.

Though CUAA’s school of nursing was thousands of miles away from their hometown, it had everything Wright and Bottorff were looking for and more. There was an opportunity to travel abroad and participate in innovative simulation experiences.

The school also offers state-of-the-art training technology and small class sizes that offer one-on-one opportunities with faculty, just to name a few.

Their experience in CUAA’s nursing program

When sitting down to talk about their experience in the RMJSON, Wright said: “There are so many things I enjoy. But, I’d have to say the professors. I know a lot of people who have gone to bigger schools and you really don’t receive the one-on-one attention like you do here. It’s also really nice to just be able to email your professor and they answer within a couple hours, not a few business days.”

Bottorff, however, couldn’t help but talk about the simulation experiences she’s been able to participate in.

“I’ve really enjoyed our simulation experiences,” she said. “Even if it was just med surge, code blue, or CPR – it’s hectic and stressful, but you learn a lot from it. We also had an amazing community simulation this summer with a ‘natural disaster.’ They made it feel so real that it forced you to think about how you should respond if something like that were to actually occur. It’s really made our nursing school stand out from others.”

Amongst the supportive faculty and set-apart simulation experiences, Wright and Bottorff have also gained tangible, real-life experiences in their many off-site clinicals, as well as one in Guatemala this past summer. They’ve also been able to experience many of their placements together.

“Built-in study partner and carpool buddy” as Bottorff describes.

You would think a rigorous program like nursing school would put a toll on a young couple’s relationship, but that’s certainly not the case. Instead, they’ve enjoyed being in the throws of nursing together in every aspect.

Advice for others

Since their experience is much different than those of our local BSN students, we asked them if they had any advice for those considering pursuing a nursing degree at CUAA.

“Nursing school is hard,” said Bottorf. “It’s going to be hard anywhere you go. But, just realize that the professors and the staff here really do want to do their best to help you. The nice, close-knit community really makes it a lot easier to ask for help or to learn better because it’s such a small community.”

What’s next?

Wright and Bottorff started their dating relationship in their hometown of Portland, but the road trip across the country and away from family is what really tied the knot for them. The engagement was on April 17th, 2021 after a year of dating.

“It was pretty quick, but that move across the country kind of sped things up honestly,” said Wright.

As seniors in the BSN program, they intend to graduate in December 2023 and then move back to Oregon to continue planning the long-awaited wedding.

Their step of faith in pursuing nursing school at Concordia University Ann Arbor is truly paying off for a lifetime.

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