Sedona AZ (December 17, 2020) – She was living in Honolulu and working at an Indian restaurant when Harmony Longly suddenly had the realization that if she lost her job, she would have nothing to fall back on. Nothing to support herself. It scared her. She realized that more and more good jobs require a college degree, and she was missing out on better opportunities by not having one.
Harmony is not afraid of hard work, she started working at age 12 with a paper route in Wisconsin and she earned a GED at age 16 so she could start a “real” job. She was young, but highly motivated due to a difficult home life and the need to help her mother and herself become financially self-reliant. Eventually, Harmony and her mother moved to Arizona. Harmony continued working hard, she joined the Army National Guard on a 3/6-year plan, served as a flight attendant (so she could travel), worked as a retail manager in Phoenix, and then at the Indian restaurant in Honolulu.
Soon after her realization that she needed a college education, Harmony’s Great Aunt died and left her enough money to move to Cottonwood. When she found out that Yavapai College (YC) was nearby, she realized that she could start over. “Yavapai College was a lifesaver in an ocean of I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Harmony as she reflected on her decision.
Harmony contacted YC to find out more about how to earn a degree, she met with an advisor, and started taking classes in January 2016. Initially, Harmony thought she would pursue archaeology or a science-related degree—she was not focused on nursing. After taking classes for a couple semesters, and struggling with math, Harmony asked for advice from her SS TRIO Advisor, Linda Evans, who was the first to suggest that she concentrate on nursing. “She has grit, humor, compassion, grace, thoughtfulness, empathy, humility, a sincere work ethic and desire to serve—she is also amazingly smart,” said Linda. She also said, “People trust Harmony because she is the real deal and I thought she would make an awesome nurse.”
Harmony said there were reasons she had never considered nursing, “I actually hate germs, I don’t like bad smells, I cry easily, but I looked at it as a challenge even though it started as a whim.” Although she had the grades and she passed all the required tests, Harmony didn’t get accepted into the nursing program right away.
With time on her hands while she waited to apply to the program again, Harmony needed a job. Again, Linda Evans stepped-in by suggesting that Harmony apply to be a tutor at the Learning Center on the Verde Valley Campus. YC invests in its tutors. YC tutors must get CRLA (College Reading & Learning Association) certified. “I enjoyed tutoring. It gave me a chance to hone my science skills and it was very satisfying when a student got that ‘ah-ha’ moment of understanding,” said Harmony.
When Harmony got accepted into YC’s Nursing Program the next semester, she found it challenging but enjoyable. Until COVID-19 hit, she was involved with on-campus SSS Trio activities and the Student Nurses Association of Yavapai College-Clarkdale. Harmony thinks the human body is amazing and she loves to study it. Her favorite class was Medical Surgery, “because it deals with diseases and how the body reacts, which ties in my favorite classes, Microbiology, Biology, and Anatomy & Physiology,” she said. Initially, Harmony was terrified of clinicals, which are where nursing students get hands-on exposure to the life of a nurse. “I’m still a germaphobe, but as I did the clinicals at Haven Health (a skilled nursing facility in Cottonwood) and the Verde Valley Medical Center, I was surprised to find that when I focused on how I could help, I forgot all about the icky aspects of it.”
After graduation from YC this December, Harmony will take the licensing exam and then start working full-time in February at Verde Valley Medical Center. She was hired into the RN Residency Program, where she will receive ongoing instruction through clinicals, online, and classroom training. She is excited to be able to work and learn at the same time and she expects to explore her options before choosing an area of nursing specialization.
Although someone else needed to suggest it, Harmony now understands that nursing is the career for her. She said, “I like connecting with and helping people. It’s a job but it feels like it’s something else—this is where I should be.”