UW-Green Bay student Renee Payne stepped foot on campus for the first time at Saturday’s 2017 commencement ceremony (May 13, 2017), despite graduating with a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN-LINC) in Leadership and Management in Health Systems degree. In fact, she worked toward her degree from across the United States and around the globe.
The Florida native knew she wanted to become a nurse at 14 when she volunteered at a local hospital. After receiving her degree as a registered nurse (RN), she met her husband, a U.S. Air Force officer. Following his career, they moved on average every 1 to 2 years from Germany to South Korea and throughout the United States.
Payne wanted to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), but she didn’t know how with the frequent moving and young children at home. After hearing about UW-Green Bay’s online BSN program from another Air Force spouse, she applied. After completing her BSN, she continued her education in UW-Green Bay’s MSN program.
Payne says she feels connected to her professors despite the distance.
“I did not feel like the professors were on the other side of the world,” said Payne. “They were very understanding and flexible, and they treated me just as they would have if I had been in Wisconsin taking classes. Even though I’ll be meeting them face-to-face for the first time this weekend, I feel as if I already know them because of our online interactions.”
Payne’s career goals include becoming a nurse leader and educator. She would like to highlight the importance of safe staffing levels in patient outcomes and be a voice for nursing and patients via political activism.
“I feel as if it is my responsibility to speak up and fight for my patients and my nurse colleagues,” said Payne. “That’s the reason I went back to school to obtain my MSN. I want to be part of a solution to improve patient outcomes in the U.S. as well as prepare the generation of nurses after me to continue to make improvements.”
She is now living in Dayton, Ohio with her family. Her husband, who is retired from active duty, is a civilian contractor at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Though she has been around the world, she is thrilled to travel to Wisconsin for the first time for her graduation.
Story by May ’17 Marketing and University Communication graduate Amy Bauer.