The Laurel Ridge Fauquier Campus continually beckoned to U.S. Navy veteran Sharlene Reading as she would drive by to check the progress of her home being built in Remington.
She and her husband, Frank, would come from Burke every few weeks to meet with their builder or see the house.
“As we would drive down Route 29 two times a month, I would pass by Laurel Ridge,” Reading says. “The campus was aesthetically pleasing, and looked very inviting.”
Intrigued, she looked up the college online, and was pleased with what she learned.
“It looked great,” Reading says. “I just had a feeling about it.”
After graduating from high school in her native Minneapolis in 1995, Reading enlisted in the Navy, serving for nine years as a hospital corpsman, which she said was similar to being a licensed practical nurse.
When she was discharged from the service, Reading went to work as a chiropractic assistant at Bethesda Naval Hospital (now called Walter Reed National Military Medical Center). She worked there for nine years.
For her work with veterans, Reading was awarded the Chiropractic Assistant of the Year by Parker University.
Shortly after having their daughter, Abigail, in 2015, Reading and her husband moved into their new home in Fauquier County. That’s when she decided to take advantage of the G.I. Bill and pursue her higher education.
Reading was unsure what courses she wanted to take, and at first considered pursuing a business degree. Then, she met Laurel Ridge health professions advisor Nancy Groves.
“She was just really great,” Reading says. “She was really patient. When she learned about my background, she suggested I consider the nursing program. I thought, oh my goodness, tell me more.”
Laurel Ridge veteran academic advisors/school certifying officials Jeanmarie Corrado and Sharon Painter also were very helpful.
“I’ve been talking to Sharon since day one,” Reading says. “She has helped me with everything.”
After taking prerequisite classes, Reading started the registered nursing program in fall 2017 as part of the Fauquier Campus’s largest class – 25 students. She graduated in May, passed her nursing boards, and was hired by Fauquier Hospital. However, she is stepping away from her job temporarily while she recovers from an injury.
“Chemistry Professor Ebrahim Abdurahiman was amazing,” she says. “He was just fabulous. Biology instructor Butch Austin – who is also a military veteran – is spectacular, as well. I didn’t feel strong in science when I started, but I became strong because I had really good teachers.”
Not having been a “stellar student” in high school, Reading was thrilled to be invited to join Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year colleges, not to mention being accepted into Laurel Ridge’s competitive and well-regarded RN program.
“If you’re willing to put the hard work in, Laurel Ridge will provide the resources you need to get it done,” she says.
Currently in Reading’s five-year plan? Working while she earns a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Additionally, she and her husband hope to eventually farm some of their 12-acre land. The couple has already donated 8 ½ pounds of onions from their Hearth of Faith Farm to Community Touch, and has hopes of one day possibly offering community-sponsored agriculture.
To find out more about Laurel Ridge’s nursing program, visit www.laurelridge.edu/nursing. You can learn more about Laurel Ridge veteran services by calling (540) 868-9753.