For the Browns, TJC nursing program is a family affair

The mother-daughter-son trio of Lisa, Christiana and Joshua Brown of Athens just finished their first semester together in the TJC Licensed Vocational Nursing Program.

How did that come about? It’s a story that actually began two years ago.

In 2015, Christiana was studying pre-med at a university, with aspirations to be an OB/GYN physician.

“That last semester I was supposed to graduate, but I was struggling in biology and it wasn’t working out,” said Christiana, now age 22. “Over the summer, I just prayed, ‘Lord where do you want me to be? If there’s a place that you want me to be, show me the door. Illuminate it.’”

A mother knows things such as when her child is having difficulties, and Lisa knew something was amiss with her daughter.

Christiana continued, “Mama knew I was struggling and said, ‘Why don’t you try nursing? You could still pursue OB/GYN but in a different way.’ So, I took the entrance test for the nursing program and passed with flying colors.”

As Christiana began her pre-requisites, mom Lisa was still homeschooling Joshua, her fifth child. The entire Brown brood includes two children by birth and three by adoption, and Lisa had homeschooled them all.

“We homeschooled all those years and he’s the youngest,” she said. “He had been taking dual-credit classes and would be graduating soon. Then, I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m going into the next chapter of life. What am I going to do?’”

Since age 13, Joshua had taken dual-credit classes in Athens with his two older brothers, until they joined the U.S. Marine Corps and moved away. He was preparing to start dual-credit classes at TJC, but he didn’t have his driver’s license yet.

Lisa recalls, “Joshua said, ‘Mom, I can’t drive and I need to continue with my dual-credit hours at TJC, so why don’t you take classes with me?’ I just looked at him and said, ‘Are you kidding me? I have not been a student for 40 years.’”

So, with a lot of faith and a little apprehension, the teacher became the student and Lisa Brown went back to school – with her children.

Joshua said, “We started with Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology with Ms. Pam Gregory, who was fantastic. In the beginning, Mama had said she didn’t think she had two brain cells that were firing at the same time, but she was making a 100 on every test and beating all the other students.”

Christiana said, “Even that first day, Ms. Gregory told Mama, ‘I can tell God put you here for a reason.’”

“It was a delight,” Lisa said. “The quality of instructors at TJC is extraordinary. They invest themselves fully and pour themselves into their students. Who can ask for anything better than that?”

After Intro to A&P, they stuck with Gregory for Anatomy & Physiology I. She remembers the family very well.

“The Browns are everything you’d want in students,” she said. “They have such diligence, great attitudes, kindness and exemplary behavior. At first, I didn’t realize Joshua was a dual-credit student and still in high school when he was in my class. He’s so tall and was so mature, and Lisa was the top scorer in my class of about 75 students.”

With their pre-requisites completed, Lisa and Joshua caught up academically with Christiana, and the three Browns applied for and were accepted into the TJC LVN program.

“I had to get special permission so I could apply at age 17, but they let me because I would be 18 when I started the program,” Joshua said.

Lisa, now age 61, said, “So, in all of our classes, Joshua has been the youngest and I’ve been the oldest. We’re the bookends.”

Has the extreme family togetherness of commuting, learning and studying been an issue?

No, they shake their heads in unison.

“We have different study habits,” Lisa said. “They like their music on, but I have to have quiet so I can visualize what I’m studying. But sometimes I will pull them in and say ‘OK, let’s study this together.’”

Just as their study habits are different, so are their favorite aspects of the program.

Christiana loves the math and calculations of the formulas.

Joshua loves clinicals, the hands-on applications of what they’re learning in class.

“I love clinicals, but I’m also interested in psychology and maybe even teaching someday,” he said. 

“He’s young and wants to do everything,” Lisa laughs. “But he is also very compassionate and insightful with patients, and he has a gift for connecting and disarming their fears. As for me, just seeing what the future holds after this will be interesting.”

Which begs the question: What’s next for the Browns after graduation?

“The first thing I want to do after graduation is for us to take a vacation up the eastern seaboard and eat as much seafood as possible,” she muses. “Then, we plan to go through the LVN/RN transition program.

“I have to be strategic with my time and I have to work fast. Maybe we’ll eventually be nurse practitioners together.”

Christiana chimes in, “Or maybe we’ll go into medical missions, possibly in Mercy Ships.”

Whatever they do, Lisa Brown knows they will be well prepared and it will all be for a purpose greater than themselves.

“I’ve always taught my children that ‘it’s not about you, it’s about what you can do to be a blessing,’” she said. “So, we just kind of began following suit and started navigating toward healthcare and the health sciences.

“Here at TJC, the professors invest themselves in their students. That’s why it really works. And they’re paving the way for students going forward. It’s the quality of the instructors that are here. They’re diamonds.”

For more information on TJC nursing programs, go to www.tjc.edu/nursing.

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