Jero speaking at Nightingale College of Nursing graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of the Nightingale College of Nursing.
By Quincey Taylor
Something the faculty at the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University hopes to teach their students is resiliency. Nursing is not an easy occupation. There are days when patients are irritable, challenges are overwhelming, and topping it off, your feet hurt from standing all day. There is one alumni example, however, who demonstrates the power and determination that accompany resiliency. Susan Jero (AS ’75, BS ’79, MS ’98) has continuously shown a refusal to give up in the face of daunting adversity.
A Challenging Youth
Jero had a difficult childhood and faced obstacles that no child should. Her mother died when she was seven years old, changing her life forever. At age eight, she gained a new stepmother who struggled with alcoholism. To escape, she left home and became married at 15 years old. Even though she never finished high school, Jero highly valued education and was determined to continue school. At 17, she returned to finish high school. Unfortunately, she was expelled—at that time, a married mother was not welcome in public schools.
Jero always had a dream to become a registered nurse. At 18, she completed training and started work as a certified nurse’s aide. She says about her dream, “I wanted to make a difference in patient’s outcomes. I wanted to help them return to good health.”
One day at work, Jero was informed that her husband had been killed in the Vietnam War. She says, “I was devastated.” A widow and mother at age 19, Jero had to find a way to support her family.
Stepping Up to the Challenge at BYU
At 23, Jero learned that she could become a non-matriculated student at Brigham Young University with only a GED. After completing 24 credits, she could apply for full admission. At this time, she was remarried with young children. She remembers, “I was determined; I was resilient. I completed those credits successfully and—with a three-week-old infant—began nursing school.”
Completing her nursing degree was a major turning point in Jero’s life. Over six years, she completed an associate’s degree and then a bachelor’s degree at BYU. Twenty years later, she received her master’s degree in nursing administration.
She says, “My experiences at BYU were pivotal in receiving a blessed career. Because of the College of Nursing, I was successful at serving as a nurse manager for eight years in a busy, intensive care unit.”
With a master’s in nursing administration, Jero was successful in chief nursing positions at two different hospitals as well as later serving as the director of nursing education services at Nightingale College. She reflects, “The skills I learned prepared me to meet the expectations of very demanding positions. I’ve loved every position I’ve ever held, and my success has been due to a great education from BYU, where I received an associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.”
She continues, “I can never thank the professors and mentors at BYU enough, including Donna Fosbinder and Dr. Mary Williams, to name a few. Always supportive, always guiding, they made a huge difference in my life. They taught me how to be a professional.”
Founding Nightingale College
In 2010, accompanied by four other individuals, Jero was part of starting Nightingale College, something she considers her proudest achievement. She served as the director of nursing education services for several years up until her retirement. In honor of Jero and her resilient spirit, the college created a scholarship in her name.
Jero is so grateful for the connections she made at BYU. Photo courtesy of Jero.
The concept of the Susan J. Jero Resiliency Scholarship was originated by Mikhail Shneyder, President & CEO of Nightingale College. While attending the Sundance Film Festival, he had the good fortune to see a film about an impoverished high school in the Mojave Desert where poor and underprivileged teens struggled with life. The high school adopted unique techniques to support and assist these teens to a better outcome.
Jero will be sorely missed by her students and colleagues. Photo courtesy of Nightingale College of Nursing.
In keeping with Nightingale College’s mission, he brought the concept to the college and approved a full-ride scholarship to a high school graduate who has faced challenges in their young life and demonstrated resiliency.
According to the Nightingale College Summer 2018 Graduation Recap, “This scholarship will cover the entire cost of tuition for a learner who exemplifies what Susan Jero always has—the ability to overcome, rise, and be strong. The presentation of the scholarship, as well as Jero’s subsequent induction into the newly created Nightingale Hall of Fame, impacted her greatly. We love you, Ms. Jero!”
Jero retired in March 2019 after 44 years of a successful nursing career. She says, “My life has been very blessed.” Jero has exciting plans for retirement and says, “I plan on spending time at home in Mexico, enjoying my three daughters and grandchildren, and reading books that I have been collecting for years but haven’t had time to read.”
Resiliency is core to Jero’s success. She remarks, “I could have never accomplished what I completed without resiliency. I am so proud and so honored to have this scholarship bear my name.”