News & Events

Nursing Student Heading to Australia on Scholarship


J.F. Drake State Community & Technical College is very proud of Cara Mason, a nursing student and member of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), who is one of several nursing students around the country to participate in the International Scholar Laureate Program starting this month in Australia and lasts for nearly three weeks.  Cara’s story is quite unique, however.  She explains


“I started at Drake after losing my brother to cancer.  He was my only sibling and it left a hole in my heart.  I realized then that even though I was in my 50's I could still have a whole new career doing something I truly loved.  I asked my husband, Rob what he thought and he said go for it!  I never could have done something so big without him and his support.  I quit my job and decided to be a full time student.  It was brutal in the beginning, I won't lie.  I cried every day for weeks.  My professors at the time were Mrs. Brandi Winchester and Ms. Toacca Taylor.  They wouldn't let me quit and they said it would eventually click.  It did, I made it and I have never had those thoughts again.  The next semester, I met Mr. Holmes.  He has also had a huge impact on not only my life, but my confidence.  He is the one who told me I was invited into the Honor Society.  I was so proud of myself, a feeling I hadn't felt in a long time.  Then I went into the nursing program.  Again, I felt like I had been hit by a truck!  But the phenomenal teachers over there care so much about their students.  Dr. Davis and Mrs. Green have been there every step of the way for us.  My experience at Drake has been incredible and I can't wait until I graduate as a nurse.”

Mr. Khalid Holmes, Drake State’s biology instructor, also takes great pride in Cara’s progress. “Over the past year and a half I have watched Mrs. Mason overcome her fear and anxiety towards school and become a shining example of what all students should aspire towards. She is now fearless in her pursuit of education and her work ethic is unparalleled. I am certain that this experience will broaden her horizons even further and that Mrs. Mason will serve as a beacon of light form our Drake State community to the world.”    It is important to point out that Ms. Mason and Ms. Monica Tackett, another Drake State nursing student who was also invited to be on the delegation, have become dear friends during their time at Drake State, "She is an inspiration to me and my study buddy," says Mason.


The trip down under is sure to be a life changing experience.  According the website, the Australia delegation of nurses will have access to the people, places and perspectives that come together to make Australia a fascinating case study on the issues and opportunities facing tomorrow’s health care providers.  Topics covered in the program include the role of Australia’s nurses challenges of a nursing shortage, a comprehensive look at Australia’s health care principles of Universal Health Care, as well as the art and science of non-traditional healing, to name a few.  Tours of several of Australia’s leading health care facilities are also scheduled to include a trip to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for training in Midwifery, a visit to the University of New South Wales to examine cataloged specimens of disease, and to Brisbane’s Woman’s Hospital to compare facilities and care.  A number of sessions will also be dedicated to aboriginal health and the role of nurses in the study of tropical medicine.


Through special access to hospitals, clinics and universities, lectures by nurses and administrators, interactive activities, group discussions and immersion in the sights, sounds, people and places of these gems of the South Pacific, they will return with not only a new perspective on Australia, but also on the future of nursing - and the difference they want to make in it.   They also get two credit hours for the program. 


“I will take plenty of pictures and will make a presentation about my experience to other Drake State nursing students in the fall,” Mason told her instructors. Interim President, Dr. Kemba Chambers remarked “It is students like Ms. Mason and Ms. Tackett that pave the way for others.  We are very proud of who they are and who they will become when empowered by education and experiences like this.”

Back to News Listing