From a strictly geographical standpoint, Stephanie Brooks, RN, BSN, hasn’t ventured very far. But in terms of her life, education, and career, she’s explored many new and exciting places.
Brooks was raised in the area now known as Central Park – then a predominantly African American, middle-class neighborhood. Brooks is now enrolled at the University of Colorado College of Nursing’s Nurse-Midwifery Program – only about four miles southeast of Central Park.
As a younger woman, Brooks planned to work for the FBI, but she reached the conclusion that nursing was a more family-friendly and fulfilling career – a decision that was influenced by her mother, another long-time nurse.
“The best thing is that I get to help people,” Brooks says.
After earning an associate’s degree at Community College of Denver and working at Denver Health as a registered nurse for a number of years, she entered CU College of Nursing’s BSN program and earned her degree in 2011.
“I worked as a registered nurse at Denver Health, and then I decided I wanted to work at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, she says. “But they required a bachelor’s degree, and I didn’t have one at the time, so I enrolled [at CU Nursing] to move forward with my career.”
Balancing work and family
Only a few days before her first round of classes started at CU Nursing, Brooks gave birth to her youngest daughter, took her baby to her first class, and continued with her studies.
“It was crazy, but it was amazing,” she says. “I just kept plugging away ever since. I’ve been in many different areas of nursing, but mostly with maternal child nursing.”
Brooks’ mother, a nurse who also earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Colorado, encouraged her daughter’s education and career path.
“I’ve always believed in this school,” Brooks says. “I felt mentored by faculty. They would help with pretty much anything I needed. I still feel that way. Everybody is trying to help us succeed.”
Another critical turning point in Brooks’ life and career occurred after the midwife-guided birth of her daughter.
“There was so much bonding and love and caring. I can’t even describe it. It was just a phenomenal experience. I thought in some way, I am going to come back to this. It just took me a little while,” she says. “Then I started talking to some of the midwives who work in my unit, and they said, ‘you gotta do it.’ So, I applied, and I got in!”
Why she chose CU Nursing
For Brooks, a CU alumna who aspires to be a nurse-midwife, CU Nursing’s Nurse Midwifery Program almost seems like a predestined choice for the next step in her career. But she says the choice was about more than comfort and convenience.
“I was born to be here,” she laughs. “To digress a little bit, I know that nurse practitioners were created at this college. CU Nursing is a world-renown place – especially for nurse practitioners – so their nurse-midwifery program was the next logical step, since nurse-midwives share a lot in common with nurse practitioners.”
Though she’s only about a month into the program, Brooks says she’s impressed with faculty – particularly Associate Professor and Director of Midwifery Services, Jessica Anderson, DNP, CNM. Dr. Anderson is one of the leaders behind the Center for Midwifery, an academic midwifery enterprise that was recently designated as an Edge Runner by the American Academy of Nursing.
“She’s amazing and so down-to-earth,” Brooks says of Anderson. “We’ve all got busy lives, so if you come to her with a conflict or need to turn in an assignment later, she’s flexible so long as you communicate with her... I feel like she’s there to help us succeed.”
What’s next for Brooks?
Balancing work, family and school is no easy task, but Brooks says she’s up for the challenge of the next three and a half years with support from family and friends.
“I connect with my spirituality all of the time, and my family is encouraging,” she says. “My husband is always there. My daughter writes me letters every day to say ‘Mommy, I love you. You can do it!’ Even the friends who work with me want to see me succeed. It’s like a big family and community who want to see you do well.”
Brooks says she’s looking forward to moving forward with the program and dedicating many hours to “delivering babies and being in clinics” on her way to earning her nurse-midwifery degree. After that, she hopes to realize her lifelong dream of working as a nurse-midwife at UCHealth Hospital.