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“When my husband and I married, we were happy, madly in love … and flat broke,” said Bethany McAtee. “Then we found Dave and paid off $60,000 in a year and a half. It was hard, but it was the best thing we ever did for our marriage because it prepared us for the road ahead.”
Dead-Ends and Disappointments
Bethany hated her job back then. As she put it, “I was travelling, schmoozing, and supporting a product I didn’t believe in. I was on a treadmill leading nowhere, dreading waking up on workday mornings.” On top of that, she was disappointed in herself. Her dream was to be a doctor. The path she was on would never carry her in that direction.
After much prayer and discussion, she and her husband agreed that a drastic career change was in order. They also agreed that they wouldn’t borrow a dime to make it possible.
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Bethany started a house-cleaning business to pay for her return to school. She had to finish her undergraduate studies before she could even think about studying medicine. For 18 arduous months, she scrubbed and mopped between classes, grabbing lunch on the run. She’d stagger home worn out from cleaning people’s toilets yet energized by her progress. Finally, she finished all of the courses she needed to get her undergraduate degree.
Changing Dreams in Mid-Stream
Now it was time to take the next step. Practicing medicine was her dream, but nursing was more financially realistic. “I had always wanted to be the one using the scalpel, not the one handing it to someone else,” she admitted, “but I swallowed my pride and chose nursing.”
A second decision followed close on the heels of that one. Should she take on the high-tuition burden of a nationally recognized nursing degree, or should she opt for less prestige and lower tuition at a state school? “It wasn’t an easy decision, but we stayed with our commitment to being weird and chose the nursing school we thought we could best afford.”
Her husband signed on for extra hours at work, but even with the lower tuition, Bethany had to keep working. No more cleaning toilets though; this time she was working in an office.
Balancing work, school, family and social life was physically taxing, emotionally exhausting and spiritually draining. Resentment dogged her too, but her faith sustained her. Resentment eventually turned to gratitude. Discontent was finally replaced by peace. She powered on.
Dogged Determination Meets Ideal Opportunity
After completing three of her five required semesters, she realized she needed some real-life experience. She set her sights on a world-class teaching hospital in her back yard—a place so elite that it could pick and choose when staffing, even when filling low-pay positions like a patient-care technician.
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“I applied anyway. In fact, I applied 10 times before I finally landed an interview,” she said. “They offered me a job on the spot.” She signed on to work every shift she could fit into her school schedule. “It didn’t take me long to fall in love with nursing.”
After graduation, she joined the thousand-plus other applicants from all over the country who applied for the 17 openings at that hospital. That’s when her hard work really paid off. They already knew she was diligent, compassionate, helpful and willing to learn, so once again, they gave her the job.
Reaping the Rewards
Today, most of her classmates are saddled with huge student loans. Some haven’t even found jobs. But not Bethany. “I have a paid-for degree, a career I love, a chance to share my faith, and a solid marriage that isn’t burdened by money fights. God has richly blessed us,” she said, “and He used Dave to do it. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful.”
Interested in practical tools to help you learn how to go to college debt free? Check out the new Dave Ramsey’s Custom College Guide.