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“I am a naturally inquisitive person and am constantly searching for why things work the way they do. This might explain my long list of degrees; I’ll have six when I graduate later this year. But in all seriousness, I thrive on learning about most any subject, even if I’m learning outside the four walls of a classroom. I suppose my curiosity is what ultimately motivates me because you never know what opportunities you’ll find or what you’ll learn every day when you wake up.”

What do you get when you combine a full-time job, five degrees, and almost 15 years of schooling? Shelley Jones. With degrees in fields such as liberal arts, physical education & health, and kinesiology already under her belt, Shelley is currently working on the next addition to her already impressive resume: a Bachelor of Science in nursing at the Burnett Honors College.

But Shelley is more than just her education. She’s also a friend, a wife, and a mother to her four-year-old son, Jack. In fact, Shelley credits much of her success to the support of her family and friends. Her wife, Michelle, works in the UCF biology department as a faculty member and researcher. Working in Michelle’s labs for the past 15 years has caused Shelley to develop a love for research and its ability to guide professional practices. In addition to her work and schooling, she’s also working on an Honors Undergraduate Thesis on a subject she’s passionate about: nursing education for LGBT patients.

For Shelley, the decision to pursue nursing came from a personal place. In 2016, she gave birth to twin boys, Jack and Max, at 34 weeks. Both sons required several weeks in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), with Jack discharged from the hospital at five weeks old. “I spent nine long weeks in the NICU and during that time I realized I wanted to pivot my career and become a nurse,” she explains, “We never brought Max home from the hospital. Although the loss of Max is devastating, his short life gave me a new direction and purpose in mine.” Almost five years later, Shelley is working her dream job as a nurse in the labor and delivery unit at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.

Shelley’s success is undoubtedly the conglomerate of several factors, two of which are time management and discipline. As one might imagine, time management is essential for Shelley to manage her busy schedule. She stresses that planning ahead is vital to ensure time is being used efficiently. Shelley’s planning starts at the very beginning of each semester— she studies each syllabus and adds every assignment, project, and test into her calendar. “Without my trusted Google calendar that syncs with my wife’s schedule, I don’t know what I would do,” she confesses. Though discipline is also critical to success, Shelley emphasizes that it must be balanced out with self-care. She offsets her 12-hour shifts and hours of homework with canoeing, hiking, reading books, and spending time with her family. With an excellent support system behind her, Shelley is prepared to take on any challenge that lies ahead.