NRCC Alumni Profiles: Justine Farlow
Justine Farlow didn’t take a typical path to a nursing career. In fact, she worked as a librarian for ten years before applying for nursing school at New River Community College.
Farlow, of Pulaski, explained that nursing intrigued her because of the many career options within the profession, and the career can be flexible for those with children. She also wanted to give back.
“Nursing is a rewarding service to others in your community,” said Farlow.
NRCC’s nursing program drew her in because it seemed that the National Council of State Boards of Nursing NCLEX exam passing scores at NRCC were comparable to other colleges in the Virginia Community College System. She was also impressed by the communication she received from NRCC.
“The faculty and staff that I reached out to before committing were very helpful,” Farlow noted.
Beyond the NCLEX pass rates, Farlow found other compelling reasons to attend NRCC.
“I chose NRCC to support education within our community,” said Farlow. “Our county is fortunate to have the college here and available for students of all ages. The short commute, the reasonable tuition, and the opportunity for scholarships and grants were all factors in my decision.”
While at NRCC, Farlow received funding for tuition through the G3 program, a state program that offers tuition assistance for any Virginia resident who qualifies for in-state tuition and whose family income falls below an identified threshold. Eligible students may enroll in designated programs that lead to jobs in high-demand fields, such as nursing.
She also received the Simmons Family Scholarship through the NRCC Educational Foundation. She found herself immersed in the college experience and was elected as one of the Student Advisory Board representatives for her nursing cohort.
But the journey to her degree wasn’t without challenges. Just before she was accepted to NRCC’s nursing program, she found out she was pregnant. And near the end of her studies, she had another child.
“Having two babies during nursing school was incredibly difficult in addition to working, caring for my family, studying, and putting in clinical hours,” said Farlow. “I’m so thankful that God put special people in my life during this time – professors, students, coworkers, church friends, clinical groups, and of course, my husband, without whom I could never have achieved this dream.”
Along with hard work and determination, she credits much of her success in the program to the nursing faculty and friends she made along the way who helped support her goal.
“Michelle Keister [one of Farlow’s nursing instructors] was one of my greatest influences during my time at NRCC. She taught my favorite class and was an excellent clinical instructor. As long as I remember to ask ‘Why?’ I believe I will never stop learning. I now have the opportunity to pursue my dream job. I’m also thankful for the friends I made!”
Farlow graduated magna cum laude, a high academic honor, with her associate degree in nursing in May and then successfully passed her NCLEX exam later that month. She recently took her first nursing job as a labor and delivery nurse at LewisGale Hospital Montgomery and is looking forward to beginning her new career.
“I would love to encourage any young woman who wants to make what seems like an impossible choice for the betterment of her family: do hard things. It is worth it.”