Working Families Grant helped propel her to success

Believe it or not, Amelia Fay has lived two lives – one before arriving at Marian University, and one after.

Or at least that’s how she describes her life, which has seen the Chippewa Falls native graduate high school in May 1991 before earning her BSN from Marian in 2014.

“It’s amazing to look back and think about how integral Marian was in my life,” Fay said. “I’ve thought about how my life would be different if it wasn’t for Marian, and I’ve never come up with a better alternative.”


Before Marian

After graduating high school Fay went to UW-Stout for a full year before transferring to UW-Eau Claire for a semester. To finish earning her associates degree, and with her family moving to Mayville, she transferred for her final semester to UW-Washington County in West Bend.

She got married. Had kids. Loved being a stay-at-home mom. But in 2008 her divorce sent her life in a different direction.

“I began wondering ‘How am I going to support myself?’” she said. “I wasn’t really familiar with higher education, I was first-generation, and at that point I didn’t know where to turn.”

But she did know she wanted to go into nursing. Having endured her mother’s passing in 2007 from cancer, she had seen how people can impact others in the healthcare industry, and she wanted to give the same kind of comfort to others that her mother received.

Needing to remain close to Mayville, her options were limited. Even worse, the first school she applied to wait-listed her. But she made her way to the Marian campus for a visit, applied, and was accepted.

“I just really liked its small-campus feel and everything seemed to line up with what I needed,” she said. “I had heard about its great reputation, but being there really confirmed it.”


During Marian

Her first year went great, but when it ended she faced one obstacle – finances. Discouraged she didn’t think she’d be able to continue, a Marian staff member caught wind of her sentiments and directed her toward Marian’s Working Families Grant Program. She applied, was afforded the grant and met its requirements for the duration of her stay – graduating with honors.

Part of those requirements included regular interactions with WFG staff, which gave her a community to rely on whenever she needed help or support. Not to mention, the entire nursing department was by her side and helping her as well.”

“I got to know so many people at Marian, and they became people I not only knew and trusted when it came to academics, but with my personal life as well,” she said. “I had a huge amount of support, a lot of people helped me through when times were difficult.”


After Marian

Her first job as a registered nurse was at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. There for a while, she switched gears and became a traveling nurse. Eventually, she landed at Advanced Healthcare of Colorado Springs and was back to being a registered nurse, which she has been now for four years.

“Every position I’ve held has made me realize that my education equipped me well, that Marian’s required courses were far more advanced than the ones many of my counterparts had to take,” she said. “With my career, I not only make a living, but moreover, my work provides opportunity to care for countless others on a regular basis.”

And, her commitment to caring for others will be passed down to future generations. Having her fourth child, Samara, in November 2017, her two oldest are now in their first year of nursing school – Jalyn, 24, at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and Jordyn, 23, at Moraine Park Technical College. She also has an 11-year-old, Joshua, who is excelling academically and could give the family another medical professional in its midst.

“If it wasn’t for Marian and the Working Families Grant I would have been doing manual labor for the rest of my life,” she said. “I didn’t see how, without it, that it would’ve been feasible to pursue my degree while caring for my three kids. Marian helped break the cycle of poverty, and I am able to promote advanced education for my children, the next generation.”