Nursing student Shannan Mitchell said hard work makes you appreciate your accomplishments all the more.laurelridge.edu/nursing.“The sense of pride that I have personally received from working night shift at the hospital and attending nursing school during the day and getting straight As is unexplainable,” she said. “I would not trade this for the world.” Mitchell was just 11 when her sister died of lymphoma. She and her father became very involved in the childhood cancer community. “I said, ‘I can dedicate my life to this because it’s exactly what I want to do,’” Mitchell, who is the speaker for this year’s health professions commencement ceremony, recalled. “It’s a great combination of helping people and having the opportunity in the future to help solve problems because healthcare is constantly evolving and I want to be on the forefront.” She has been struck by how willing everyone at Laurel Ridge is to help each other. “The college fosters a community of support from their staff, from the program that you’re in and also from the students,” said Mitchell. “The professors are really adamant about making sure that you feel like you know what you’re doing. I always feel comfortable going to them. They want you to know that you have somebody there always, whether it’s about nursing or not. And that support system has been really beneficial, not only in the program, but in my personal life as well.” She especially appreciated Nursing Professor Elizabeth Marshall. “She makes the classroom very fun,” said Mitchell. “She gives a lot of real-world examples that help you understand it better. She does a really good job of connecting with the students on a personal level, and part of it is just her magical personality.” Not all of Mitchell’s time on campus has just been about nursing. “I took a history course, I took a religion course,” she said. “You can take classes that aren’t related to your program. You can join a club. There are a lot of activities that you can involve yourself in to make you feel like you’re part of a community beyond just going to school. There are things you can involve yourself in that you say, ‘Oh, I’m a Laurel Ridge student and I have friends that I made there that I’m going to have for a lifetime. “Also, the campus is beautiful. You look outside and it’s this huge open field and you can see the mountain, and the buildings are all made of glass windows and they have plenty of comfy chairs. I love the natural lighting – it’s really conducive to group work. There is a warmth to all of the buildings that invites you to stay.” The college also has the latest technology, Mitchell noted. “There are a lot of resources for students that can really benefit them,” she added. “You’re not limited to just your little laptop at your house. You can come here and sit in a computer lab and use the printers and it’s a welcoming environment.” Plus, Laurel Ridge is so much more affordable while also providing a more personal touch, said Mitchell. “I went to a four-year university before I came to community college, or even considered it, and I should have listened to my parents because that put me in debt,” she said. “And, the sense of support from a community college is much different. You can go to a large university and sit in a classroom with a hundred students and your teacher will never know your name.” Learn more about the nursing program at
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.