Svetlana Van Ness:
Health and Wellness

It was one phone call that would forever change the life of Svetlana Van Ness. She was in her late 30s and had been working as a certified occupational therapy assistant in a local hospital and skilled nursing facilities. She loved her job and considered herself fortunate to help people regain their functional abilities and independence.

But her desire to further assist her patients was too persistent to ignore.

“I have always admired the incredible skills nurses have and their ability to alleviate human pain and suffering,” she said. “Over the last few years of working as an occupational therapy assistant, I have had this nagging feeling that I want to learn how to take care of my patients’ nursing needs.”

In 2022, Van Ness called an advisor at Lorain County Community College, where she had previously earned her OTA degree. She had one question.

“I asked if I was too old to start the nursing program,” she said. “He told me, absolutely not.”

And with that, Van Ness, now 40, applied for and was accepted into LCCC’s registered nursing program. She felt at home, again.

“I had such a wonderful previous experience as an LCCC student,” Van Ness said. “We are so fortunate to have such a great community college in our area because it supports students in every way it can by providing multiple academic and support services. This helps students achieve their goals and dreams despite challenges they face on their academic journey.”

Van Ness speaks from experience, having faced challenges herself. When she was taking nursing support courses, her husband suffered an ischemic stroke. He was off work for one year while she was in school, and his at-home rehabilitation was intense. In addition to the rigor of the nursing program, Van Ness found herself caring for her husband and their two children at home.

It was difficult at times, but Van Ness said the demands of caring for others taught her the importance of taking care of herself.

“I came to the realization early in the nursing program that if I take even a few minutes a day doing something that brings me peace, like taking a walk in the park or listening to my favorite music, I will have more physical strength and mental energy for school assignments and other life commitments,” she said.


Van Ness also learned that at LCCC, support spread well beyond the classroom setting. From scholarships that eased financial burdens, to the tutoring center that was available to her, Van Ness tapped into the wrap-around services she needed to succeed.

“I think these additional services makes a huge difference in students’ lives because it makes them feel that they are not alone and there is always somebody out there who can help,” she said.

Van Ness wasn’t the only one in the family impacted by the holistic resources LCCC provides. During her first few years, as Van Ness tackled her pre-requisite courses, her daughter came with her to campus and attended the Children’s Learning Center.

“The Children’s Learning Center has a wonderful team of Early Childhood educators who provided my daughter with the best preschool experience she could have,” Van Ness said. “I remember how excited she was on our way to campus, how much she looked forward to seeing her teachers again. It was a kind and loving environment that enables children to learn and thrive.”

For every struggle Van Ness faced, she found support and a solution. And now, as she graduates with her associate degree in nursing and prepares for the NCLEX, Van Ness said she’s grateful to the LCCC instructors and staff who stood behind her as she moved toward her goal.

“I have been dreaming of becoming a registered nurse for a long time, and LCCC made it possible for me,” she said. “I can honestly say that without LCCC I wouldn't be where I am now, for which I will be forever grateful.”