Alumna overcomes learning disability to achieve nursing dream

August 9, 2011

When Nicole Charvat Stricker ’08 was injured in a car accident during her undergraduate career at Bradley, it was uncertain whether or not she could make it through the nursing program. She came out of the accident with head injuries and was in a coma for nearly a week. As a result of the trauma, she developed a learning disability.

“My undergraduate experience was very tough after the car accident. I had a brain injury (TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury) from the accident, so I had a hard time focusing on learning one thing when there was so much information to learn in all my classes,” Stricker said.

But Stricker had her heart set on becoming a nurse.

“I had wanted to be a nurse since junior high or high school. I liked the medical field and wanted to help patients recover,” Stricker said.

One of the toughest courses Stricker was enrolled in was Human Physiology, taught by Dr. Craig Cady. She went to his office for help, concerned that she would not make it in the nursing program after scoring an “F” on the first exam.

“The TBI made my mind feel like there was a fog or haze I had to push through in order to think clearly,” Stricker said.

But Stricker was never willing to give up. And Cady was equally determined to help her succeed, extending his regular office hours to allow time for careful explanations of key concepts.

“I was certainly concerned that she might not make it through the program and I know that she expressed concern about whether she would make it through, too. During our conversations, I would try to focus on her progress and improvements during the course, providing her with a more positive direction,” Cady said.

They worked and worked until it became clear their dedication was paying off. Stricker not only passed Cady’s course, she completed all the necessary coursework for a degree and has been working as a nurse for three years. Currently, she works in the stroke rehabilitation unit of MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I cannot thank Dr. Cady enough for helping me get here,” Stricker said.