Pictured: Keizzie Collins Photo Credit: Aaron Musgrove
Moultrie, GA -- At the tender age of 7 years old, a tiny girl named Keizzie was already adept at helping her grandmother with her insulin shots. By that age, she had experienced more challenges than many do in a lifetime. Her parents were unable to care for Keizzie and her brother, so her ailing grandmother had taken over their care. As she would administer her grandmother's life-sustaining injections, Keizzie often asked, "What am I going to be?" Her grandmother would always respond, "Baby, you're going to be a nurse!"
Becoming a nurse, however, seemed like a failed dream nine years later when Keizzie became a 16-year-old high school dropout, and single mother of two. "I was a statistic, and my statistical chances were that I would never make it past that point. I never thought I'd be anything." Keizzie Collins explained. "It was a miserable time in my life, not having a high school diploma or a GED." At the time, she was on all the public assistance options available to her, and she knew she was trapped. She had two small sons, and little hope for her future, when she decided to try to change her stars. "I pleaded with God that if he would help me get my GED, I would just keep running with it."
Going back to school after dropping out so young wasn't easy. She failed her math three times, and her essay twice. Not defeated, she kept taking classes, bought a GED study book, and tutored herself. One of Keizzie's adult education instructors, Laura Hall, remembers her outstanding determination, saying that "Keizzie was a persistent student. It didn't matter what obstacles she faced or how many setbacks she had. She just refocused each time until she met her goal." Keizzie finally did earn her GED at the former Moultrie Technical College in 2005. She remembers that "passing that test was a point of change in [her] life. It was like the whole world suddenly opened."
After achieving her first goal, Keizzie didn't immediately know how to proceed, but she did know who to ask. "I was guided the whole way," she said, regarding the process of finding her path, both academically and financially. She felt fully supported by the school through her first halting steps through education. "I felt that people at the school wanted me to have a successful life. They were there for me!"
First, Keizzie became a Certified Nursing Assistant, reasoning, "My Grandmother said I could be a nurse... and that's a nurse!" After reaching that mark, however, she felt a restless pull to go further. She decided to push herself to become a Medical Assistant. Juggling kids, school, and a burgeoning career, she tenaciously did what she set out to do. Still, she wasn't done with furthering her education.
Becoming a Licensed Practice Nurse was the next hurdle, a more intimidating leap. She had heard that becoming an LPN was competitive and challenging. But "hard" had not stopped Keizzie for a long time, so she went for it. "I was so scared, because of what others around me were saying." But with dedication and persistence, she sailed smoothly to her goal. She quickly found her cheerleaders at the school, saying that in a small college, she never became a number. "I liked the relationships that I was able to develop with my instructors. They were never too busy for me. Their attitude was always one of 'what can I do to help you be successful in this program?'"
By the time she earned her LPN, Keizzie was a busy married lady with a career and four children. She wanted to live as an example for her kids, and had already achieved more than she ever thought possible. But she could still feel her late grandmother's words tugging on her heart. Her grandmother had believed in her, and prayed for her, even when she didn't believe in herself. Keizzie knew that she wasn't done yet. Looking at her life she said, "This isn't it... I have to keep going!"
To fulfill her dream of becoming an RN, she enrolled in the ASN bridge program in 2015 at Southern Regional Technical College, and once again, found a powerful support system within the school. "This time at Southern Regional, it was different. It was a stronger push that I got. I had to work harder than ever, but the help was there, I just had to keep moving forward." When financing became an issue, the school and the SRTC Foundation helped her find money through grants, scholarships, and book loan programs. With flexible scheduling and patience, she was able to work full time while continuing nursing school.
On January 7th, 2017, Keizzie Collins officially became Keizzie Collins, RN. It was a promise that her grandmother didn't live to see fulfilled, but she was very much a part of Keizzie's success. "I have always held onto my grandmother's words all my life... her tug on my heart is still drawing me forward." She also credits SRTC with much of her success. "Every diploma, every degree that I have, I got at my local college. I always felt that everyone at this school was on my team... through my successes and my failures, I was supported every step of the way."
Keizzie Collins, RN is employed at the dialysis center at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Georgia. The love of her job is palpable. When she talks about her patients, there is a joy that permeates the air around her. "In dialysis, we get to develop a real relationship with our patients. We have this connection. I know when a patient comes in if she is overloaded, or even just feeling down. I know that they are OK with they leave... they have a chance to live again. I have a special passion for young women that are on dialysis. I want to encourage them, and let them know that they can still have a good life, a full life."
In the fall of 2016, Keizzie received the surprise of her career when she was awarded the prestigious Daisy Award in recognition of her exemplary humanity and the extraordinary care that she provides to her patients. The Daisy Award is patient-nominated, a special "thank you" to nurses who go above and beyond. Keizzie was stunned and humbled. "I don't treat my patients better to win an award, I just do it. My grandmother planted a caretaker seed in me. I can't stop. I just have to take care of people."
Keizzie still feels the pull. She's still not done. She wants to encourage the next generation and reinforce the message in young women that it is never too late to chase dreams. "I started so low down when I was young that I couldn't see my way out, but it wasn't too late for me. I want young women who are growing up in bad situations to believe that it's not too late for them either, it's never too late to build a successful life for ourselves."
SRTC offers over 148 degree, diploma, and certificate programs that are designed to get you quickly into your desired career, and 27 general education courses that transfer to the University System of Georgia institutions and 19 private colleges and universities in Georgia. SRTC has instructional sites located in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton, and Sylvester for the convenience of our students. The College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. For the most up-to-date information on registration, class dates, and program offerings, log on to www.southernregional.edu or call (888) 205 – 3449.