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CU College of Nursing BSN Graduate April Gosling

Graduating Student, 41, Proves it’s Never Too Late to Pursue Dreams

April Gosling will graduate Summa Cum Laude after years of poor grades, turmoil

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Sometimes, the path to success isn’t so clear. At least not for April Gosling. The 41-year-old is about to walk across the stage at the University of Colorado College of Nursing and grab hold of a hard-fought degree in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). She’s graduating with the college’s highest distinction Summa Cum Laude.

But before all of that, she was shot down by colleges and thrown off course by personal loss and deaths in her family. Yet, Gosling never gave up on herself. She says she won’t quit on other women either when she becomes their medical professional in the future.

Her troubles began after high school. Gosling was a creative writing major with a minor in history at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo earning perfect grades. But then, her mom died. Gosling started dating one of her professors and got pregnant, then miscarried. It was two huge losses back-to-back.

“For most people, when you’re growing up, school is a safe space. After my mom died, it was still a safe place for a while until I lost that child with someone directly associated with the school. It took me a long time to get over that trauma. So school wasn’t easy. It wasn’t just something I could show and do anymore,” says April Gosling, BSN class of 2022.

She was barely showing up for classes and struggled to finish homework on time. Her grades sank. Eventually, Gosling left college and took a job working in independent bookstores. She did that for 17 years, absolutely loving it, until one day, she didn’t anymore. She felt ready for something else.

Gosling was now 35 and watching her favorite TV news comedy show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. One of his guests was talking about how Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) were needed in the field of women’s health. Specifically, they were needed to assist with abortions. Before then, Gosling thought CRNAs mostly worked in plastic surgery. Listening to the show, she liked the idea of working in healthcare to help women with reproductive health.

“I was like, I can do that! Women’s reproductive health is very important to me. My parents always said, “If you have, give.” I feel like with women’s health, I can be that person. It’s an area where some people are intimated or uncomfortable because having an abortion is a very stressful choice. I liked the idea of being there to help talk them through it and provide a comforting presence,” she says.

She talked with her husband about going back to college and earning a BSN, which would then allow her to later earn a doctorate CRNA. With his support, in 2016, Gosling started healthcare classes at Front Range Community College.

“The environment I had with my professors and the support I had from my husband both magically combined in this perfect space that allowed me to be my stubborn self and grind out all of the A’s that I could,” she says.

Gosling knew it was time to get to work. She went to CU Boulder and completed 45 credits in three semesters to finish up her history degree. She then applied to the University of Colorado’s College of Nursing UCAN bachelor’s program, but was rejected. She didn’t give up though. In June 2020, she applied again and was accepted. But two weeks into the program, her father passed away.

Gosling had looked up to her dad. He had been a family doctor in a small town in Michigan, just 23 miles from the town he grew up in and where his grandfather had also been the town doctor. As one of only five doctors in the county, he delivered babies and was the coroner.

At the time, lawmakers in Michigan were deciding if they should allow abortions in the state. Gosling says her dad started a petition and went around town asking people to sign it for women to have the right to choose. When he took it to his mom’s house, she told him to leave. So, he drove to his grandmother’s, who was born in 1889, had been a suffragette, and was a nurse. Her grandmother told him, “I’m sorry I can only sign this just once!”

“I remember stories like that about my great grandmother and my dad. They also continually talked to me about the importance of choice and women’s rights,” says Gosling.

Gosling says she doesn’t want to be a doctor like her dad because she wants a better work-life balance.

“It’s important to have balance and journal and reflect on life. Journaling gets me through many hard times. I also like the P90X fitness videos. The coach says, “You can do anything for 30 seconds.” So, I use that saying to help in life. I know being a CRNA will be stressful. But I’ve done a lot so far, and I feel like I have the strength of character to make it through the not-so-good days,” says Gosling.

Gosling will be one of the older students who will walk across the stage and graduate this month. But those extra years have also made her wiser. This is her advice to fellow classmates:

“Your world may be destroyed by a death, a break-up, a loss you never anticipated, and the world’s unfamiliarity after the dust settles may drive you to hide from those pursuits you were relentlessly pursuing… I just want you to know it’s okay to not be the valedictorian. It’s okay to mess up. To fail classes. To drop out. To quit. To run away, but only if you are honest with yourself about why you’re doing it…The only thing you need to do in life is to find out who you are. That’s your only assignment. And while there’s a deadline, we don’t know when it is due. So, strive toward it daily.”

Topics: Students