Bachelor of Science in Nursing, UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Thoracic/ Cardiac Intermediate Medical Unit
Courtney Alexandria Tennant was born in Canada and came to Texas in 2019 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She completed her prerequisites at Lone Star College-CyFair scoring in the 99th percentile on the Test of Essential Academic Skills and enrolled in the School of Nursing and Allied Health at Houston Baptist University (HBU).
A stellar student throughout her undergraduate studies, Alexandria (her preferred name) was one of the program’s top students, earning a 4.0-grade point average with Dean’s list recognition each semester. She served in the Nursing Student Association as the PALS chair where she helped mentor incoming students through the academic challenges of nursing school. While at HBU, she was inducted into Alpha Chi, a national college honors society, and Sigma Theta Tau, an international honors society of nursing and the second-largest nursing organization worldwide. She also was awarded the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship, the Provost Scholarship and the John S. Dunn Scholarship.
Alexandria credits her mother for overcoming the challenges of being a single mother and instilling the value of a good education in her children.
“I got to see her build herself up from someone on welfare to someone that worked her way up a company to an exceptionally high-achieving female engineer. She worked towards her engineering degree at a time when a few hours away from her college in 1989, a mass shooter shot and killed 14 women studying engineering at a university in Montreal. This was known as the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, an anti-feminist attack against women in STEM fields. Despite this, she did not budge on her dreams for a higher education in STEM,” shared Alexandria.
Because of her mother’s dedication and hard work, Alexandria has achieved her dream of obtaining a degree in nursing and has accepted a position working at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in the Texas Medical Center where she will serve patients in the Thoracic/Cardiac Intermediate Medical Unit and also participate in ongoing cancer research.
“That is the kind of role model I grew up admiring every day. I am proud to continue that legacy and overcome barriers to achieve all I can,” said the recent HBU Class of 2022 graduate.
Alexandria felt welcomed at HBU as an international student. She credits Shannon Bedo, HBU Director of International and Veteran Student Services, for her support through the process of completing the international nursing student application that enabled her to attend HBU.
“She was always just a call away and very empathetic towards the overwhelming paperwork for an international nursing student applicant. She helped smooth the process and make it feel manageable. The nursing department was also much more familiar with welcoming international students than other schools I applied to. This built my confidence that I was going to attend a school that was happy to have me a part of their pack,” said Alexandria.
As an international student, it was very difficult to find an affordable education and also receive the best nursing education and experience she could obtain, shared Alexandria.
“HBU was the most affordable option because they did not distinguish between a student’s residency for tuition. This was such a blessing to me to not only find an affordable institution to pursue a nursing career but for that school to also have a prestigious reputation in the community,” she said.
The Canadian native recalls a point when she thought that she would not be able to complete her education because of her inability to continue paying for tuition, but God intervened. “There was a point when I was going to have to go back to Canada because I could no longer afford the tuition, but God quickly provided, and I was blessed with additional scholarships that allowed me to complete my education at HBU. I wasn’t eligible for many scholarships at other schools because I was an international student, but because I choose a school that focused on a student’s story and their campus and church involvement, I was blessed to continue my education with the John S. Dunn Scholarship. I couldn’t help but think of Proverbs 3:5-6 and rejoice in the gift. Every time I thought all I worked for would fall apart, His plan prevailed,” said Alexandria.
For nursing students who are following in her footsteps, she offers words of encouragement and support.
“It will be challenging and difficult, but the fact you were accepted into the program shows you have the dedication and strength to make it through. Many students enter nursing schools having received straight A’s on every exam—only to find that’s rarely the case in nursing school. Give yourself grace for that transition and understand that it is the type of person you are not your grades that makes you a good nurse,” she said.
Her future plans are to complete her master’s degree to expand her knowledge of the nursing industry.