Persistence pays off: past scholarship winner earns BSN, continues to chart her own course

When it comes to education, Judy McCord is not one to give up. McCord, a registered nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit, decided to apply for the annual Chief Nursing Officer Scholarship in 2012.

Judy McCord standing behind charge nurse Judith Fortson in the post-anesthesia care unit on the second floor of the surgical tower.

Judy McCord standing behind charge nurse Judith Fortson in the post-anesthesia care unit on the second floor of the surgical tower.

“I tried for three years in a row,” she said, “I had to do something this time to grab the CNO’s attention.”

Each year, she put together a brochure of herself and the steps she wanted to take in her career. It finally did the trick. McCord was awarded the scholarship and went on to earn her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Grand Canyon University.

McCord joined TMC in 2002 as a surgery scheduler. In her career at TMC, in addition to scheduling, she has been a unit clerk, a PCT, an LPN and an RN. Outside of TMC, she has been a banker, a medical biller and a scheduler in a surgeon’s office.

“I have had a lot of hats in my life,” said the 51-year-old, who earned her associate’s degree from Pima Community College in 2007.

“It took me a while, because I had to do all my prerequisites,” she said, adding that she was also rearing five kids, taking them to all their activities, caring for her dying father and recovering from an automobile accident.

The bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, took 11 months, and she graduated with honors.

“It’s free education; you’ve got to take advantage of it,” said McCord, whose higher education got off to a rocky start. McCord and her family moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Phoenix where she attended her first three years of high school.

Her family moved to Tucson for her senior year, but then her parents decided to move back to Phoenix. McCord stayed behind to finish high school. But, she ended up quitting.

Then someone called her an “idiot.” And that was that. “I went back to school with a full-time job and living on my own, to earn my diploma and prove them wrong. I am not an idiot.”

She made that clear, continuing to work hard and keep learning.

Katie Brooks, manager of Workforce Development has known McCord since she was a unit clerk in the operator room, many years ago. “She has worked so hard. She knew what she wanted and went after it,” Brooks said.

And it wasn’t just Brooks, either, who believed in McCord. Cheryl Young was the CNO who awarded her the scholarship.

“I want to give a big thanks to both Katie Brooks and Cheryl Young for believing in me,” she said.

With degree in hand, even more doors are open to her.

“Now that I have my degree, I want to use my BSN and utilize my education,” she said. “I don’t believe in failure, I believe in success. I don’t really believe in giving up. I kind of have gusto.”

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