Concorde Blog -
Mar 25, 2020
Alumna's own life story pushed her into a career as a Public Health Nurse Practitioner
Ask Bobby Mickens how she arrived where she is today, and she'll tell you. It was her own life experiences that inspired her.
The hurdles and hardships started early for Mickens. She had to drop out of high school to care for her ailing father when she was just a teenager. (He passed away from congestive heart failure when she was 16.) The experience of taking care of her dad taught Mickens at that young age that she had the capability-and the desire-to care for others.
"My father would cry because he knew I was out of school while taking care of him," Mickens said. "During those days I realized I had a knack for nursing, and I promised him I would go back."
But that opportunity wouldn't come until later. Mickens soon found herself in another Predicament.
By the time she had earned her GED and was ready to pursue her future, she wound up a single mother with an infant living on government assistance and with literally no one to help her.
"It was scary during those days," she said. "But I just had to dig deep and approach it."
She knew she needed a quick path to get to the next level because she had a child to raise on her own, so she checked out the health care career training programs offered at our Kansas City campus
and literally enrolled in the Medical Assistant program the day she interviewed with Admissions. And that's when things started to change.
"It was the first time I was able to excel in an educational program. I was making terrific grades and found pride in myself. It was awesome!"
With this newfound encouragement, Mickens did the hard work with a baby in tow, finished the program in 2001 and went straight to work as a Medical Assistant. But the urge to actually provide care for others was still there.
With the support of then, new husband, Landon, Mickens decided to keep going for it. And the rest is no less than a series of inspirational "stair steps", which is her own terminology for describing her systematic approach for reaching her goals.
She earned her associate degree in nursing in 2006 from Metropolitan Community College and went to work as a labor and delivery nurse. And she kept climbing. By this time, she had become a mother of three and was still holding down her job, but she didn't let it distract her. She pressed on to earn her bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri â Kansas City (UMKC)-and she still didn't stop there. With patient care as her goal, she then earned her master's degree from UMKC in 2014 and went on to become a nurse practitioner and eventually a director of nursing! Amazing!
Mickens will readily admit it wasn't all easy. She has no problem talking about when she failed her pharmacology class at UMKC and had to wait another year for the opportunity to take that course again. She watched as all her classmates moved on and graduated while she took extra classes and bided her time. But it didn't keep her from staying focused and, eventually, succeeding!
"You just have to dust yourself off and realize everything is not going to be a 'win,'" she said.
"Bobby's determination and success story is truly a testament to what can be accomplished with hard work regardless of your previous life circumstances," said our Kansas City campus Senior Graduate Employment Specialist, Dan Gurule. "Her story speaks directly to our students because she has been where they are and, in turn, she gives them a real-world example of how limitless their future can be."
Not only has Mickens been where our students are, but she's also been where her patients are.
Because of her hardships early in life as a high school dropout and single mother, Mickens has intentionally pursued her career as a nurse practitioner in a public health role so she can help the underserved. She's dedicated to the health needs of women in the community at Kansas City-based Swope Health-a federally-qualified public health center delivering accessible care to the Kansas City metro and surrounding areas.
"I've always had a passion for helping young mothers who need it because that once was me," she said as she smiled. "Now I get to do it where they need it the most. Sometimes it takes tough love, but I know my patients appreciate it because they come back to see me just to give progress reports of their personal successes."
"For a while, I was Director of Nursing for Swope Health and was hiring fresh-faced medical assistants who were just like me when I finished Concorde's program. It's a full circle, and I believe it was all meant to be."
As a means of giving back to her community in other ways, Mickens often takes her story of survival and success to public platforms. She makes routine appearances on local radio stations and in grade schools around the area as a motivational speaker and hosts podcasts designed to inspire. She even addressed our own Kansas City graduating class of 2018 at their spring Commencement Ceremony!
Because of her exceptional life story, we asked Bobby to offer her words of advice on how to survive and to thrive regardless of the obstacles life can throw in the way. Her perspective is inspirational for anyone:
"You just need to be motivated. You can never have a 'woe is me' attitude. That won't get you anywhere. Yes, there are times you'll think you aren't capable. But when that happens, you just have to tap it down and realize you can do it. It's a piece-by-piece process-but trust yourself. You'll get there!"