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NCK Tech graduation special for mother

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

Daughter of the late LaVerna Gasper

Mother's Day normally is special to mothers of all ages. This past weekend was special with a capital "S" for Amy Suppes.

Saturday, Suppes was one of 46 students to graduate with a two-year associate degree from the Hays campus of North Central Kansas Technical College at the 2012 graduation ceremonies at Fort Hays State University.

The next day was her baby boy's 2-month birthday.

Suppes earned a two-year nursing degree and will take her nursing certification board exams on June 6 to become a registered nurse.

Nursing instructors at the technical college said it was sheer determination by Suppes to be able to keep up with her course and clinical work during her pregnancy, then after delivering Aiden Joseph just before spring break in March.

"She came early every day; it didn't matter what was going on," said Cynthia Anschutz, one of the nursing instructors for the second-year program in Hays. "Then after a C-section (birth on March 13), she came two days later to take a test in my gerontology class."

In addition to making the half-hour trip to class from her home in La Crosse each day, Suppes also works as a licensed practical nurse at Rush County Nursing Home.

She credits her husband, Joseph Trimmer, and her 11-year-old son, Christian Suppes-Trimmer, in helping keep things going at home.

"I didn't know how to do laundry anymore, they had done it so much," Suppes said of her family lending a hand.

Suppes, now in her late 20s, first became interested in nursing as a teenager when she began working as a certified nurse's aide.

"I like taking care of people, so I thought I would like nursing as a career," she said.

Suppes was right on track with her education plan after completing her first year last year. Then, in mid July, right after receiving her acceptance letter into the second-year program, Suppes learned she was pregnant.

The biggest hurdle continuing at her present pace, Suppes would learn, was fatigue.

"I'd be used to going to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning (last year) and still be able to get up and go to school," she said. "This year, at about 9 (p.m.), I was out."

So, Suppes rearranged her studying schedule and stayed after school.

"She was very diligent," Anschutz said. "(Nursing students) are dedicated, committed."

Patricia Drees, another instructor at NCKTC, agreed.

"She's very determined and just kept working, plugging away," Drees said. "In the morning, she would be sitting in the parking lot when I got there."

Suppes said more than one time during the past school year, she wondered if she should pull out of classes and continue another year.

But each time she talked herself out of it.

"I'm doing this for my family," she said.

Then, two months ago today, Suppes knew she made the right decision to keep going.

For the past several weeks, Suppes' instructors and fellow students have enjoyed having an extra person in the building when Suppes would take Aiden along with her to school.

"She'd be taking notes and feeding the baby," said Sandy Gottschalk, director of nursing at the tech college. "So I'd take him and rock him. It was really a good time."

Suppes is looking forward to a lot of good times, especially after Saturday.

"I get to graduate," she said, adding as she looked at the baby in her arms, "and I get you."