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Forest Park Nursing Student Wins District Contest

October 18, 2011

Cindy Bakalar, a fourth-semester nursing student at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, was a third district winner of the Student Nurses Association Presidential Scholarship to the Missouri Nurses Association Biennial Convention Oct. 7-8 at Tan-Tar-A Resort in in Osage Beach, Mo.

Her winning essay was titled, “The Future, Nursing and Informatics.” The essay is being submitted to the Missouri State Board of Nursing newsletter for publication.

Cindy Bakalar nursing scholarship  
Cindy Bakalar

She also is the newly-elected president of the Forest Park chapter of the Student Nurses Association.

A south St. Louis City native, Bakalar will receive her pin on Dec. 14, something she’s wanted to do since she was a teenager. She returned to school three years ago to earn a degree in nursing after dropping out 30 years before as a newlywed who moved out-of-state with her husband Anthony.

She had to retake all the pre-requisite science courses because it had been too long since she was in school previously, and she spent a year on the waiting list for nursing.

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

Bakalar raised two daughters – Kerrie, now an attorney, and Alex, who is studying hospitality management at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. -- and worked in the family-owned mortgage business until they sold it a few years ago. This was her opportunity to finish the degree that she started right after high school (Roosevelt High, Class of 1979), attending Saint Louis University School of Nursing.

Bakalar currently is working at SSM-St. Mary’s in Clayton for her clinical, and is interested in becoming an ER nurse. She said her family’s been very supportive.

“I could not do this without them,” she said.

Nursing was a vocation early, and she continues to feel strongly about the profession.

“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.”

Of her education at Forest Park, she is appreciative of the faculty here.

“I love the teachers here. They’re here to make sure you succeed – they are not here to break you," Bakalar said. "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.”