Chloe’s mom is her rock—the person she tells everything to, her best friend, her role model. The two also work together as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at a nursing home in Glasgow, Ky.
“I just love her so much because she’s been there for everything,” Chloe ’26 said. “She works really hard to provide for me and my sister. We work together sometimes, and it’s fun. I feel like that made us closer. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”
Raised in a single-parent household, Chloe partly chose to follow in her mother’s work footsteps out of admiration for her hard work and independence. “It’s inspiring,” Chloe said. “I hope that’s me one day, to say, ‘You can do all this stuff without needing anyone else.’”
But more than the bond the two share that carried over into the CNA positions, Chloe, who just finished her first year at Berea College, has chosen to major in nursing because of something else her mother was there to help her through. In 2017, at her regular 12-year checkup, Chloe’s lymph nodes were swollen and, after an ultrasound, nodules were found on her thyroid. A biopsy came back negative for cancer, but the doctor still wanted to remove part of the thyroid to correct autoimmune issues she was experiencing. However, when they performed the surgery, the biopsy was wrong—cancer was present in her thyroid, parts of her voice box and her lymph nodes. The surgery and treatment were successful, but in 2019, the cancer returned, and she had to go through the entire process again.
“That was an experience in itself,” Chloe recalled. “But I can remember the nurses and the doctors just being there and offering me coloring books and stuff to make me feel comfortable. I think that’s really when I decided what I wanted to do.”
Having finished her first year in Berea’s nursing program, Chloe plans to become a pediatric oncology nurse and work with child cancer patients.
“It will be sad, but it will be rewarding,” Chloe said about working with those patients. “I feel like [my] experience will help me understand, hopefully, what my future patients are going through, and I’ll be able to relate to them on a level that maybe other nurses can’t. So, I feel like the reason that happened to me was to make me a pediatric oncology nurse. It’s something I’m pretty passionate about, but I’m hoping that I enjoy it, and that it’s not too emotionally demanding.”
Knowing Chloe today, you would never know the health difficulties of her childhood. Her bubbly personality and sweet spirit exude from her and pour out in her friendships and in her position on Berea’s cheerleading squad. Her beautiful voice rang out from the Black Music Ensemble during her first semester, and her friendly and empathetic personality landed her a job as a resident advisor (RA) for the upcoming academic year.
But of all the relationships she has cherished as a first-year student, Chloe says she loved her professors best of all. “I just feel like I got really lucky with my professors so far,” she said. “Being at a small school, they can make connections with everybody. I feel like I’m friends with all my professors. I love them all so much, and they’re so smart. Some of them just feel more like family.”
Chloe found her place on campus, but she still went home once a month, allowing her to stay connected to her mom and to the patients she’d come to love at the nursing home back in Glasgow.
“I feel like it makes me closer with my mom, like it makes me cherish whenever I get to go home,” Chloe reflected. “And I really take it all in more.”
Those visits home also allow for a break from the rigors of college life. “I’m not going to lie, [nursing] is one of the hardest majors here, but it’s very rewarding,” Chloe said. “But at the same time, we have a 100-percent pass rate (on the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses). So, it might be hard, but you’re going to be prepared.”
And her life experience has already prepared her to handle hard things. “I think that it just honestly showed me how strong I can be, and how much I can really do,” Chloe said of her cancer journey. “I feel like it just pushes me every day. If I have a hard assignment, I’ll be like, ‘You’ve done all of this in your lifetime, you can do this!’”
Looking into what the next three years hold for her, Chloe has her sights set on traveling abroad. Last summer she learned of a group that went to Tanzania and worked in different clinics and orphanages helping people through their nursing skills. Chloe cannot wait for a similar opportunity to open for next summer.
“I want to experience that so bad; it’s so cool. And I feel like I would have endless stories to tell about it,” she said. “Just learning about a lot of stuff to make me a good nurse—that’s all I really want to do. That’s the main goal.”