Some people might think being in the U.S. Army was the toughest thing Kendra Softly has done in her life.
“My first degree and being in the Army was nowhere as intense as the degree that I earned here at West Coast University," the Texas native said at a recent WCU-Dallas pinning ceremony. "I knew that with time and persistence it could be done. I know a lot of people get distracted, have their own lives and things of that nature but this is what they told us at the beginning of the program — you're not going to have to time for that."
Before attending WCU-Dallas, Softly graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s in biology in 2003. She joined the Army in 2006, serving as a medic for six years, including a year-long deployment to Iraq. After completing her active duty in 2012, Softly continued on as a reservist until October 2015 — all while attending classes at WCU.
“I have a 7-year-old son, Mason, who definitely keeps me on my toes. Finding balance between being a full-time student and full-time mom was certainly a challenge,” she said. "It was a great sacrifice but now I'm ready to live it up with my son and my family, and be able to support them in whatever their dreams are as well. Completing this program gave me the tools I needed to help those in my community. WCU offered much more than an education, it offered diversity and a staff that was genuinely concerned about my well-being."
Now that she has her BSN, Softly wants to give back to her military family and work with veterans in the Dallas area. In August, she starts the post-baccalaureate RN residency program at the VA North Texas Health Care System.
"When I leave WCU I hope to change lives with the veteran population because I am one. When I came out of the Army, which was in 2012, I hit the ground running," she said. "Now that my dream has come true, I can truly give back."
Despite the tough moments, Softly said she wanted to reassure current or prospective WCU students that earning a nursing degree is doable — and might be achieved sooner than expected.
"There were a lot of times that I wanted to give up, but I said 'No way, I've come too far' and that was it. I loved it," she said. "It went by fast, I will say that. I didn't think it was ever going to end, but now looking back on it, I'm like 'Oh, that was pretty fast.'"