In 2017, Kiri Rohne had a dream: to move out of her four-door home, a Toyota Cressida.
Five years later, not only would she be out of her car, but she would also be working in a hospital after completing the entire nursing pathway — from certified nurse aide to Bachelor of Science in Nursing — at San Jacinto College.
Overcoming late start
At 31, Rohne thought it was too late and too costly to pursue college.
“It felt like I had to make money to live or go to school,” she said.
Despite being practically homeless, she wanted to help others as a nurse. While working at Chick-fil-A, she learned San Jac offered scholarships and affordable tuition — plus flexible classes to fit around her job and life.
“For someone who was barely providing for herself, it gave me hope that I would be able to go to school to become a nurse no matter how long it took me,” she said.
Rolling up sleeves
In 2018, Rohne finished San Jac’s six-month certified nurse aide program, got her license, and started working with nursing home residents. This role deepened her desire to continue training so she could help patients of all ages with more than just daily living activities.
When she transitioned to the vocational nursing program, Rohne faced her biggest challenge yet. After full days of classes and clinicals Monday through Friday, she worked “double weekends” at the nursing home — 5:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. shifts Saturday and Sunday. She continued this grueling schedule while going straight into the LVN to RN transition nursing program.
“There were a lot — and I do mean a lot — of tears through the process, and exhaustion was definitely a thing,” she said. “But to get where I wanted to be, I was going to have to push through to make it happen.”
A registered nurse by 2021, Rohne still wasn’t done. With her “get ’er done” attitude, she immediately enrolled in San Jac’s one-year BSN program — training that would open nursing leadership roles.
Reaping the rewards
Today, Rohne is a board-certified cardiovascular nurse at HCA Health Care Clear Lake Heart Hospital. No longer does she worry about a steady paycheck or a reliable roof.
While San Jac’s simulation labs and hands-on clinicals prepared her for real-world nursing, she credits much of her success to her support system — from the College’s counselors, financial aid representatives, and tutors to nursing faculty.
To get where I wanted to be, I was going to have to push through to make it happen.
“I remember the teachers and staff being so sympathetic and going out of their way to help me or meet up with me to go over work,” she said. “I always knew they wanted me to succeed. They didn't just say it, but I could feel it, and that helped more than they know.”
Now, as a nurse, Rohne fulfills her two core desires: helping and learning.
“Health is more than just physical, and I strive every day — every shift — to help brighten the spirits of my patients,” she said. “There is also a side to me that always craves learning … and the nursing field is quite literally packed with things to learn.”
Embracing struggles and success
Some people choose to forget their past, but not Rohne. She embraces the journey she’s traveled, knowing that her difficulties led to sweeter success.
Was the stress worth it?
“I'm proud of my story and how hard I fought to get here,” she said. “When people ask me where I graduated, I'm proud to say San Jacinto College.”
Although Rohne wouldn’t change her past “because it helped make me the nurse I am today,” she has one suggestion for San Jac: “Now y’all need a master’s program.”
Learn more about San Jac’s nursing programs.