Whytlie Morrisett

Whytlie

Whytlie Morrisett dreamed of becoming a pediatric nurse even when others told her she never would achieve those dreams.

 “I have had many people look down on me over the years,” Whytlie explained. “They think because I am a teen mom, I am stupid.”

The 19-year-old knows better. Whytlie continues to prove others wrong by surmounting obstacles and hitting new milestones in pursuit of her dreams.

Whytlie achieved her first major milestone on Oct. 15th when she graduated from the Kokomo Area Career Center’s Adult Education Program. On that day, Whytlie learned she had passed her High School Equivalency Exam on her first try.

“I was nervous to learn the results,” Whytlie noted. “When I found out I passed, I was shocked. I cried.”

For Whytlie, graduating from the Adult Education program was an emotional moment, which capped a five-year journey.

Whytlie dropped out of high school at 14 when she discovered she was pregnant with her first child. At the time, Whytlie had every intention of returning to school to earn her diploma. Life had other plans. In the years that followed, Whytlie married her boyfriend and had two more children.

All three of Whytlie’s babies were born premature, and the labor and delivery of her third child was traumatic. Whytlie experienced a partial placental abruption.

“I almost died, and my son was born weighing two pounds,” Whytlie explained.

Whytlie’s son spent four months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he first relied on a ventilator to breathe. Eventually, the infant graduated to a CPAP machine, and then to an oxygen tube in his nose. During this time, Whytlie was caring for two toddlers at home while driving back and forth from the NICU to care for her youngest.

The mother of three had little time to consider her education, but she hadn’t forgotten about her desire to pursue her high school diploma and a career. As Whytlie’s youngest son approached his first birthday, now completely healed, Whytlie settled into the routine demands of motherhood; she also found time to think about her high school education once again.

Now 19, Whytlie knew a traditional high school path was not an option, but she watched her husband earn his High School Equivalency Diploma and felt that might work for her. Whytlie connected with the Kokomo Area Career Center Adult Education program and enrolled immediately.

Registration in the program begins with a pretest to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses in the five areas of testing: Math, Reading, Writing, Science, and Social Studies. Those results are used to create an individualized plan of study for each student.

Whytlie tested off the charts in Reading and Writing; her only weakness was in the area of mathematics.

The Adult Education teachers at the Kokomo Area Career Center worked one-on-one with Whytlie to review math concepts, while also offering strategies and tips to improve test-taking skills and build self-confidence.

Despite earning few credits in high school, and being away from education for more than four years, Whytlie felt she was ready to take her High School Equivalency Exam within three weeks of enrolling in the Adult Education program. On Oct. 15th, Whytlie learned she passed the exam.

 “That passing score changed my life, honestly,” Whytlie said. “I wanted to do better for my kids, and this was the first step.”

Whytlie wasted no time in taking the next step. A week after passing her High School Equivalency Exam, Whytlie submitted her application at Ivy Tech Community College. Whytlie achieved her second major milestone when she gained acceptance at Ivy Tech.

In January, Whytlie will begin juggling motherhood with four college courses: Anatomy 101, Psychology 101, English, and Math. Whytlie is most excited about her Anatomy and Psychology courses, and most nervous about her Math class.

In May 2021, Whytlie will complete the exam for entrance to nursing school.

“If everything goes well, I will start nursing school in August of 2021,” Whytlie noted.

After earning her associate’s degree in nursing from Ivy Tech, Whytlie plans to pursue her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Indiana University Kokomo. Whytlie’s ultimate goal is to become a pediatric nurse.

“I want to help parents, especially young parents, navigate difficult circumstances, like what I went through,” Whytlie explained. “I want to help them through the situations I thought I wouldn’t survive.”

Whytlie’s teacher, Joanne Mijic, has no doubt the mother of three will find success.

“I know you can do this,” Mrs. Mijic told Whytlie recently. “What you put your mind to, you can achieve. Your accomplishments so far are a testament to that.”

Whytlie acknowledged that she wouldn’t be in a position to achieve her dreams without the teachers in the Adult Education program. These educators, Whytlie added, provided a calm environment, explained concepts in ways she could understand, and worked around her hectic schedule. In fact, the teachers were so invested that when Whytlie missed class to care for her sick kids, the teachers checked in with Whytlie to make sure her children were OK.

“My teachers at the Kokomo Area Career Center helped me land in the place I want to be in life… able to pursue my dreams of becoming a nurse,” Whytlie said. “I would recommend the Kokomo Area Career Center Adult Education program to anyone, especially young mothers. I wish I would have found this program sooner!”

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