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Tana Raypole returns to Ohio University Chillicothe to pursue nursing dreams

Tana Raypole knows what happens to a dream deferred. She took summer classes at Ohio University Chillicothe after graduating from Paint Valley High School and began taking classes at Shawnee State University in the hopes of pursuing a nursing career. When Raypole relocated to North Carolina she put that dream on hold while starting a family. Now, after a break of 16 years, she has returned to OHIO Chillicothe to pursue that nursing degree that was always in her mind. 

A native of Bainbridge, Ohio, Raypole now lives in Chillicothe, where she balances the demands of school, work and family. 

Raypole's journey has taken turns both expected and unexpected. She said she had to “grow up fast” because her partner at the time was a Marine deployed out of Camp LeJeune when her first child was born. As a young parent, she continued to pursue her educational goals, earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology from American Public University, starting while she was in North Carolina with a toddler at home. 

Now that she has returned to OHIO Chillicothe as what she calls a “seasoned student,” Raypole says the skills and experiences she has acquired in her jobs have given her valuable insight and perspectives that serve her well as a nursing student. 

Raypole has an extensive background in social services, having worked at the Lighthouse in Bainbridge, as an aide at the Pioneer School, and as a service and support administrator for the Ross County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Most recently she served as a senior enrollment specialist at Public Partnerships where she helped people with Medicaid waivers. This spring she will return to working as an independent in-home care provider to support her ability to balance her work and school schedule. 

A single mother of two, Raypole knows she is setting an example for her children as she adds returning to college to the list of challenges she is tackling. 

“I think it's good for them to see me do something hard and to succeed at it,” Raypole said.

Raypole leverages her organizational tools and calls on the support of her family and social network as she works to balance her obligations as a caregiver and student. 

"I'm a visual person, I have to see a schedule. I have to see my blocks of what I need to do with my own eyes," Raypole said. "I have had an upfront conversation with my family. They know I'm not going to be as present to do all the things and we're going to have to work together."

Raypole's passion for nursing stems from her innate desire to help others, a trait she's carried since childhood, along with a strong sense of social justice. 

"Ever since I was a little girl, I have cared about people in ways that go unnoticed by some," she said. “It feels natural to me to want to help people.”  

This fall Raypole took the remaining prerequisite course required for her to enter the nursing program and now she is excited to keep learning as she pursues her nursing degree. 

"I can't wait to get into the nitty-gritty part of things," she said. "I like all my classes right now because I like all my professors and all my lab instructors, and I love hearing their stories and learning from their experiences." 

As Raypole continues her educational journey, she remains grateful for the support system she has built.  

"Surround yourself with people who support you," she advises. " I have a great group of women and men in my life who are supporting me and cheering me on.” 

Though most of her time is occupied with classes, studying, work and taking care of family, Raypole still finds time to cheer on others as a mentor with the Paper City Mentoring Program and a supporter of First Capital Pride Coalition, a local organization aiming to support the LGBTQIA+. 

Raypole plans to graduate with her associate of applied science in nursing next spring and begin her nursing career before pursuing her bachelor of science in nursing. 

February 23, 2024
Staff reports