A New Direction

Learning that it's never too late to start over.

Renee Middleton
Renee Middleton, nursing student at LCCC.

Life's journey can be full of twists. Paths you never knew existed suddenly become visible for the most curious of reasons. Though the trails may have moments of darkness, sometimes the light becomes a point of strength.

Such is the case with Renee Middleton.

In the midst of a difficult introduction into the medical world six years ago through her husband's struggle with cancer ­– a valiant battle which ultimately ended his life – and then her own fight with the same disease, Renee did a little soul-searching.

In that time, she found a new career path she wanted to take: healthcare. She had already spent 31 highly successful years working in marketing, the last 26 of those at Taco John's corporate office in Cheyenne. She loved her work as the company's vice president of marketing, but the healthcare field called to her.

A lifelong student, Renee frequently took LCCC courses that interested her during the last 30 years. After her experiences with cancer, she found herself taking anatomy and physiology classes. And she wanted to learn more.

Renee realized her passion had changed, and she wanted to become a nurse.

It's not easy to move from one field to another. Renee first would have to be accepted into the LCCC nursing program – one of several areas of study in LCCC's School of Health Sciences & Wellness – and succeed at many challenging courses and clinicals, but she also had to cope with her husband's passing.

So Renee took a year to grieve, then made plans to get her college application in order. She started in LCCC's nursing program in January 2016.
She said coming back to school was one of the toughest things she's ever done, but she loves the challenge. "I can't believe it took me this long to figure out what I want to be when I grow up."

Even though there is an age gap between Renee and many classmates, she feels accepted. Jennifer Anderson, director of LCCC's nursing program, said, "Renee is actually the representative for her class, which is a position voted on by her peers. She has such strong leadership skills."

Renee also finds that her marketing background is helpful with nursing. She can present information in a way that persuades people to make a positive change for their health.

"And I'm getting to actually help people," she said. "That's truly satisfying."

Renee will graduate with her associate degree in nursing this December. She's also working on her bachelor's degree through the University of Wyoming. She added, "LCCC does a phenomenal job of creating a bridge to getting a bachelor's."

What does Renee say to people who want a change in their life?

"Go for it. Start steps today to make that happen. Hold yourself to something. Believe in yourself."