What Possible Looks Like
Starting over professionally can happen at any time
Shelley Feist believes in possibility. As a teenager, she dropped out of high school and ran with a bad bunch. As a young adult, she bounced from job to job. At times, money was so tight she scavenged nickels and dimes to pay for basic necessities like gasoline and tampons. Then she discovered she was pregnant.
“I couldn’t support myself and a baby,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about anything. Somehow, I was led to the right places and the right people.”
Now in her early 40s, life is good for Shelley. She’s employed by Billings Clinic as a registered nurse. The first in her family to obtain a college degree, she’s happily married with three children still at home. She has a retirement plan, health insurance, a road-worthy vehicle, a mortgage she’s glad to pay and a career path she loves.
Looking back, Shelley believes her life began to turn around when she met Sandra Feraglio, Director of the Billings YWCA Employment and Training Center.
“Sandy was my mentor,” says Shelley. “She had my back.” Sandra told Shelley to ignore the naysayers who said she‘d never amount to anything. Sandra helped Shelley find child care and an entry level office job at the YWCA. As her skills improved, Shelley worked with disabled adults as a YWCA Supported Living Specialist.
“Even then, I still qualified for rent and food subsidies. Before I could even consider college, I had to take Algebra 1 and other basic courses through School District 2 Adult Education because my academic foundation was so deficient.”
Once at MSU-Billings, Shelley applied for every scholarship and grant she could find to minimize her debt load. With help from an MSU-Billings Student Assistance Foundation (SAF) tutor, Shelley learned she could do well in biology and she liked it. She wondered about nursing, but she was intimidated by nursing students and their thick texts in the library. She told herself she had to try.
“Each semester, I’d read the syllabi and class requirements. Then, I’d sob and tell myself I couldn’t do it. But I knew I could do it one day at a time. So, I’d get up and put one foot in front of the other.” Shelley and her day-planner became best buddies. After admission to the MSU-Billings College of Nursing, she focused on doing her best each day. Graduation with honors followed and she kept her eye on her nursing boards. Before she knew it, she was a floor nurse at Billings Clinic. These days, Shelley works as a geriatrics nurse administrator. She handles admissions to Billings Clinic’s Aspen Meadows facilities and Medicare reimbursements, provides insurance case management and backs up the floor nurses as needed.
“I had to put myself out there,” Shelley says of her continuing journey. “We all have our good days and bad days. I still take each day as it comes.”
“There is always hope,” says Shelley. “No matter how low you feel, your life can change. You need to keep trying every day.”