‘I’m Going to Change So Many Lives.’

How the Novant Health Upward Mobility RN Scholarship program helped Courtney Spangler achieve her dream of becoming a nurse. 

This month, Courtney Spangler achieved a dream decades in the making: She graduated from nursing school

Spangler, a certified nursing assistant at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, wanted to become a nurse in high school. But at the time she graduated, there was a two-year waitlist to attend. She knew she wanted to continue her education, but two years felt like too long to wait.

Instead, she decided to pursue a career in criminal justice. Growing up, her parents struggled with drugs and alcohol, and her mother was in prison by the time Spangler turned 18. As a result, she wanted to work with children and give them the best chance at a happy, successful life.

“I wanted to let them know, even if you come from a rocky background, you can still do it,” Spangler said.

She went to work at the jail in Rowan County for four and a half years and rose to the rank of sergeant. But she couldn’t shake the pull to nursing.

“If something medical would happen at the jail, I was always the first one there on scene,” Spangler said. “Growing up, I lived with my grandparents a lot, and when they got sick, I took care of them. I like to be part of someone else’s journey to feeling better or to let them know you can come back from this. It may not be 100%, but you can still have a lot of life.”

So, she decided to take a leap of faith. She applied to become a certified nursing assistant at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, and after she landed a position in the cardiac telemetry department, she applied to nursing school. She was accepted and started working toward her RN degree in the fall of 2020.

At first, Spangler and her family were paying for school on their own. Then, as she entered her second year of nursing school, she learned about the Novant Health Upward Mobility RN Scholarship program, which provides financial assistance for team members who aspire to become registered nurses.

“I was able to get this past fall semester paid for, and it was a relief,” Spangler said. “We have a house and kids. I didn’t want to have student loans, and that really helped. I was able to get a new computer to work on. It’s really been a blessing.”

In addition to the financial support she received, Spangler has also benefited from the emotional support and encouragement, particularly from Erika Robinson, who facilitates the Upward Mobility RN Scholarship program at Novant Health.

“Erika is awesome. I can call her and tell her I’m about to lose my mind, and she’ll give me stress relieving techniques,” Spangler said. “It’s been so important to have that mentor checking in with you to see how life’s going and help you make it through.”

Spangler was scheduled to take her board tests in January and then begin her residency at Rowan Medical Center in mid-February.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m dreaming. I get emotional about it. In the beginning, I was thinking, ‘I’m 37. Can I do this? Is this the right decision?’ And then I thought, ‘Everyone has different paths. Maybe it wasn’t the time then,’” she said. “Now I feel like I’m going to change so many people’s lives.”

And she’s not finished yet. Spangler is preparing to start an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington to achieve her ultimate goal: Becoming a nurse practitioner.

“I’ve always had these leadership qualities, and I want to be that person who sits down with the patient and talks to them about their health and tries to get medications that are right for whatever they have going on,” Spangler said. “A nurse practitioner is like a teacher or mentor for your health, and that’s ultimately what I want to be.

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