Williamsburg Technical College
"Becoming a mother opened my eyes. It made me realize I wanted more for my children and myself. It got me to rethink what was possible for me."
My name is Bridgette Montrose. I’m 38 years old, and I’m a mother of two. I came to Williamsburg Tech to study nursing. They accepted me and actually made me feel like they wanted me here. At 38, I almost thought it was too late for me. I’ll be the first person in my family to graduate from college.
Was college something that you’d wanted to do? How did you decide to go to college for nursing?
I thought college was not for me at all. Then as I got older, the more I started to feel like I needed to do something with my time and energy because my children were getting older. My grandmother had also become very ill and shared that no one in our family had ever been to college, and that she wanted me to do more with myself. I came to an epiphany that it was time to do something to further myself as an individual and guide my children. If they saw their mom do this, they’d know they could do it, too.
During my grandmother’s illness, I saw the impact the nurses had on the family and her healthcare. They were not only there for her medically, but they also supported the family. They provided encouragement and support along the way, and I wanted to give back to my community in the same way they had given back to my grandmother. Little by little, the pathway to nursing opened up for me and here I am.
What made you think college wasn’t something for you?
I came from the other side of the tracks. I made good grades in high school, but I was very social and I let my social life take control. I dropped out my senior year, and I went back to an adult education program about three years later to get my high school diploma. From there, I was like, “Okay, I’m done. I did my part. I don’t want anymore.”
College always seemed more like an upper class thing. I didn’t think that that was for me. I didn’t think that I would succeed, to be honest. I doubted my abilities, and I didn’t realize the value of an education. Becoming a mother and realizing that I wanted more for my children and myself opened my eyes. It got me rethinking what was possible for me. At 38, you really think that you’ve done all you’re going to do, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Williamsburg Tech opened their arms to me. They showed me that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. They helped me understand there were opportunities available to me, even at 38 and not having gone straight into college from high school.
What about being a mother changed your mind about education?
I wanted my children to have better, do better, and not have to work as hard as I did. Sometimes you don’t see that there’s greatness within you. As a mother, I wanted my children to see that the world can take anything from you, but they can’t take your knowledge. Knowledge is the key to becoming a success. I want my kids to know there is always possibility, and I want to lead by example.
How has going to college changed your relationship with your kids?
My son is 18, and there were times when our schoolwork matched up. When I’m like, “Oh man, I don’t know exactly how to do this,” and he’s like, “Mom, it’s okay. I got you.” We learn from each other. My daughter is 14, and I’ve noticed that she has been doing more college prep. I have even more of a connection with my kids now.
How did Williamsburg Tech help you throughout your journey?
I was welcomed right when I came through the door. The staff members in the office told me exactly what I needed to do to enroll. They also helped me with financial aid, which opened up a lot of doors for me.
I got help from my instructors and professors, too. I had a lot going on a couple of times, and I had to reach out to them. The professors here offer their cell phone numbers, and not everybody does that. I don’t know that I would even do that, to be honest, but the professors help you and they guide you along the way. They help you when it’s difficult and they encourage you to continue. You might struggle, but you can get back up. I don’t think I would have done it without them. Honestly, they just have helped me in every aspect. They’ve been there for me the whole time.
What have you learned about yourself?
I’ve learned that I am smarter than I give myself credit for, I’m tougher than I give myself credit for, but I’m also tougher on myself than I thought I would be. Before I thought, “It is what it is.” Now, I push myself for perfection. I push myself to make these As and Bs and not settle for a C. I’m pushing myself to reach beyond what I thought was possible.
I also learned that I have value; sometimes we lose sight of that. We can be of value not only to our family and our friends, but also to our communities.