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Forest Park Campus

Nursing student finishes college 33 years after starting

Cindy Bakalar

When Cindy Bakalar receives her nursing pin on Dec. 14, it will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. She returned to school three years ago after dropping out 30 years earlier, as a newlywed who moved out of state with her husband Anthony.

Today, she’s a fourth-semester nursing student at Forest Park, and president of the campus chapter of Student Nurses Association.

“It feels great. It’s even more exciting when you have a lifelong dream—it’s finally getting close,” she said.

Bakalar won a presidential scholarship to attend the Missouri Nurses Association Biennial Convention this fall at Lake of the Ozarks. Her essay titled “The Future, Nursing and Informatics,” was chosen as the third district contest winner. .

A south St. Louis city native, Bakalar, whose maiden name is Davis, worked in the family-owned mortgage business with her husband until they sold it a few years ago. That became her opportunity to finish the degree that she started right after graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1979. She previously attended St. Louis University’s School of Nursing.

She remains as dedicated to the profession as she did in her younger years.  “I like the ability to help someone at a time when it really means something to them,” she said. “We’re the patient advocate. Our job is to teach the family.”

Returning to school meant some adjustments. She had to retake all the prerequisite science courses because it had been too long since high school and requirements had changed.  Then, she had to spend a year on the Nursing waiting list.

She raised two daughters – Kerrie, now an attorney, and Alex, who is studying hospitality management at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.  She said her family has been very supportive. “I could not do this without them,” she said.

She is currently working at St. Mary’s Health Center in Clayton for her clinical, and is interested in becoming an emergency room nurse.

Of her education at Forest Park, she is most appreciative of the faculty. “I love the teachers here. They make sure you succeed—they are not here to break you. As long as you go to them, they’re there—they will do whatever they need to do to help you. They want to see you succeed.”

By: Lynn Venhaus