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Mother, daughter take on nursing program

For Barbara Toney and Rachel Craft, Friday’s commencement ceremony at Ohio University Southern was the end of a long journey taken together.

Part of the newest class of nursing graduates, Craft and Toney are the first mother and daughter to start and finish the nursing program at OUS together.

At age 50, Toney decided to go back to school and start a career after raising four children, two of whom she taught at home. When her son and daughter finished up their secondary education and prepared for college, she decided to go, too.

“I was a 50-year-old freshman,” Toney said. “Fifty’s not fatal. I’ve taken good care of myself. I feel like I’ve got the best of everything. I got to raise them and even home school them and now I get to go on and have a career. It’s just awesome.”

Though Toney warned Craft that going to school with her mother would be “social suicide,” Craft said that was not the case.

“It was kind of just like having a friend and a peer to go to school with,” she said.

Attending college was a new experience for Craft. Having been home-schooled all her life, she had always wondered if she could compete with other students.

“It was a little intimidating because I all my life I always wondered if I measured up to everyone else,” she said. “After I got into it and got a couple grades that weren’t bad, I liked it.”

Toney had wondered if she was doing enough to teach her children.

“I think all in all it’s been a positive thing,” she said. “They’re happy and adjusted and made the transition to college very well.”

Both Toney and Craft decided that nursing would be a good fit for them after getting guidance from the Lawrence County Workforce Development Resource Center.

“It seemed like a good fit being a mom and a caregiver,” Toney said, adding that she also liked the idea of the job security and benefits. “I just enjoy doing things for people and taking care of people.”

Craft was recently married and decided a nurse’s work schedule will suit her.

“I’d like to start a family one day and working three days a week would be a good thing for that,” she said.

She has worked at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

“I honestly like helping people,” Craft said.

The two are excited to graduate, something they have worked hard to accomplish.

“I was really surprised,” Craft said about the difficulty of her classes. “I kept thinking every quarter that it couldn’t get any worse but I was wrong every time.”

Both women plan to continue their education in the bachelor of nursing program. Craft has a job lined up with KDMC while Toney is still exploring the possibilities.

“I’m relieved but I’m still a little nervous about starting as a fulltime nurse, because it’s such a huge responsibility,” Craft said.