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(SWEETWATER, Texas) – It took encouragement by her supervisor for Melissa Rice to go back to college.

Rice, a longtime licensed vocational nurse at Lake Granbury Medical Center, is a candidate to graduate from Texas State Technical College this fall with an associate of applied science degree in nursing.

“I have always had a deep drive to help people,” she said of her decision to enter the nursing profession.

After becoming an LVN, Rice began her career in Tyler and later moved to Granbury. She took the time between becoming an LVN in 1982 and completing the registered nursing program at TSTC to start a family.

Her supervisor at Lake Granbury Medical Center suggested that she return to school to become an RN.

“She told me that I was doing what an RN does and I needed to get paid for it,” Rice said. “A friend of mine recommended TSTC, and I applied.”

Rice was not accepted the first time she applied, but that did not deter her. She was accepted on her second application, knowing the hard work was about to begin.

Rice said balancing her career and school was made easier by her supervisor and the TSTC instructors.

“My supervisor was more than happy to accommodate my hours so I could go to school,” she said. “The instructors kept us motivated. They were right there in the trenches with us.”

Instructor Charlene Rice, no relation to Melissa Rice, said Rice had the right attitude for nursing.

“Melissa is a bright and intelligent student. She is always ready to learn and help her fellow students,” she said. “She shows great integrity with her patients, fellow students and instructors. Melissa has one of the kindest hearts that is full of compassion.”

At Lake Granbury Medical Center, Rice works in the delivery room. She said that is the best place for a nurse to work.

“I love newborn babies,” she said. “Being there during the birth of a child is a miracle. It never gets old.”

Rice cares for the babies immediately after their birth.

“I am the person that takes care of the baby right after they are born,” she said. “We lay the baby on the mother’s chest, and then I am there to take care of him or her. That has been the highlight of my career.”

Once Rice passes her state board exam, she will be eligible to assist mothers during labor.

“This will be a wonderful transition for my career,” she said.

Rice had to commute from Granbury to Sweetwater for clinicals, saying it was the support of her family that helped her complete the program.

“My husband and family have been very supportive,” she said. “He told me so many times that I could do this. The biggest thing he did was help me when I lost papers on the computer. He was always there to comfort me.”

Her classmates were also a source of inspiration.

“I could not have done this without my classmates,” Rice said. “We were always communicating with each other, even though we did not see each other as often as we would have liked.”

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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