portrait, smiling of Rebecca Dragonetti, Associate Degree Nursing Program Graduate

Veteran says scholarship was instrumental in helping her pursue a nursing career

Rebecca Dragonetti is a recent graduate from Blue Ridge Community College’s Associate Degree Nursing Program. She’s also a veteran who served in the Coast Guard before pursuing her nursing education and the recipient of the George and Anne McGregor Allied Health Scholarship. Dragonetti says the scholarship and financial aid she received from Blue Ridge and the GI Bill were essential in helping her pursue her educational goals.

Critical financial support

Before she earned the Blue Ridge Educational Foundation scholarship, she waited tables to help pay for her schooling. When the pandemic began, she was laid off.

“I lived with my parents, but was trying to make this work with no real income,” she explains. “The scholarship and financial aid enabled me to make things work with school and get the best grades possible.”

She adds, “It’s been hard to make it work financially, but the scholarship along with the other financial aid I received was instrumental in helping me keep going and be successful. You know that there are people who care and want you to succeed.”

Pursuing a nursing degree

Dragonetti grew up in a family with several nurses, but never thought about pursuing the career herself.

“But as I got older, I became more self-aware,” she says. “I realized that I have a lot of the personality traits that do well with that line of work.”

Dragonetti will begin pursuing her bachelor’s degree in nursing this fall at Western Carolina University (WCU). Thanks to Blue Ridge and WCU’s dual-enrollment agreement, it will only take her a year to complete her degree.

After she earns her bachelor’s degree, Dragonetti says she has big dreams.

“There are a lot of things I want to do,” she says. “I want to move around and do different things until I find a niche that appeals to me.”

Support for veterans

Dragonetti says attending Blue Ridge was affordable and flexible. She’s also grateful for the support she received as a veteran.

“Blue Ridge has a really good Veterans Services Program,” she says. “Crystal Smith is our go-to person and runs the Veterans Club. She’s always there for us.”

Dragonetti encourages other veterans who would like to further their educations to do their research and find a school that recognizes their unique position.

“Blue Ridge really values veterans and recognizes that we have some unique challenges and gifts,” she says. “They do what they can to enable our success.”

Advice for prospective nursing students

While the nursing program is challenging, Dragonetti encourages those interested in the field to get started.

“You can do it – you have to know school comes first with the nursing program,” she says. “If you’re scared, start somewhere and work on those baby steps until you get where you need to be.”

To learn more about Blue Ridge’s programs and financial aid, visit blueridge.edu.