Nursing student loves learning, travel - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Nursing student loves learning, travel

nursing student Lee

Jessica Lee is in her first semester at LCC and is in the nursing program.  Photo by Mallory Stiles

Mallory Stiles

By Mallory Stiles
Editor in Chief

When there is so much panic surrounding the medical staffing shortage in the U.S. post-pandemic, it is important to remember more medical majors matriculate every year.

A great example of a healer in training is LCC student Jessica Lee, 44, who is not only a mom to three and a triathlete, but also a nursing major. She is determined to combine her scientific curiosity and humanitarian side to make something new of herself.

“I am fascinated by blood and guts and all that,” Lee said. “I love learning about how the body works. I think our bodies are just amazing. They are just these incredible machines that are a total mystery.”

Lee admitted there are a few big changes in her life at the moment, but said that continuing her education will remain a priority, even after she earns her nursing license.

“I am changing gears,” she said. “I was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years and now I am going to finally do what I have been meaning to do for a long time, which is just going back to school and doing something I want to do.

“I don’t want to stop at nursing. Going back to school has reawakened my hunger for intellectual stimulation. I don’t want to stop learning.”

This is Lee’s first semester at LCC. She said she is very impressed with the institution as a whole. She is currently taking two accelerated courses while raising her three boys (Tristan, Daniel and Edward) who are all under the age of 15.

“I spend all of my free hours doing homework,” she said. “I am doing this constantly and when I am not doing this, I am putting Band-Aids on knees and mediating arguments.”

Lee was born in the Florida Keys, but spent a lot of time in Alpena, Mich., with her dad after her parents split up. She went back and forth her entire childhood.

After graduation, she became a flight attendant and fell in love with discovering new places.

“I used to love just getting on an airplane and flying anywhere I wanted on my days off for free,” she said. “I lived in Philadelphia but I would take a day trip to New York. It was a 30-minute flight.

“I would just walk around Central Park or walk down Fifth Avenue just to pass the day. Or I would go to D.C. The Smithsonian is free and it’s huge; I mean it takes days to see it all.”

Lee has been to several countries, including Spain, Germany, England and Ireland. She said she has no regrets about taking a less traditional path in her early 20s.

“There is a type of education that you get from traveling that you can’t get from reading in books or watching movies,” Lee said. “You can try to immerse yourself in any other way possible, but nothing takes the place of actually being in a place surrounding by new architecture or ruffage.”

She said it was her dad who gave her “the travel bug.” He is currently a psychologist, but was also once a captain of a boat in the Keys and has tons of wild stories.

Growing up, it was dad who took her on adventures. Whether it was in the woods or on the water, Lee was practicing survival skills at a very young age.

Lee’s mother, Lori Schackmann, is a nurse herself. She describes it as a rewarding career.

Schackmann also had a significant impact in her daughter’s life. Lee said she was always there to cheer her on, no matter what direction she was going.

Schackmann said Lee has always had a strong sense of empathy and has always been one to leap into action in a crisis situation.

“She is my second born,” Schackmann said. “She is bright and sensitive; she has a big heart. She is who she is and that’s what I love about her.”

Lee has three sisters and one brother, is allergic to animals but has loved a few deeply, and prefers the color blue because it reminds her of the ocean.

The last song she listened to with intent is “I Am Woman” by Emmy Meli, and her favorite childhood movie was “Labyrinth.”

She describes herself as someone who is always willing to lay her heart on the line for her fellow humans, as well as someone who is determined to keep an open mind about absolutely everything in life.

“I just want to be curious,” she said, “and go and discover and have adventures.”

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