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Husband and Wife to Share Center Stage, Receive Nursing Diplomas During Morrisville State College’s Commencement May 16

MORRISVILLE, NY—Growing up in the same Brooklyn, New York neighborhood, Carla and Junior Nelson’s lives were separated only by an intersection.

Carla sometimes frequented the health store where Junior worked—but their paths never crossed.

Years later, she caught his eye at a college party and they’ve been inseparable ever since.

As graduates take center stage to accept their diplomas during Morrisville State College’s commencement May 16, the Nelson’s will have the proud honor of sharing it, alongside each other.

Donned in the same regalia, the husband-wife duo will each graduate with an associate degree in nursing during the college’s commencement ceremony which will be held at 1 p.m. on Drake Field.

It’s an accomplishment that radiates excitement from both Carla, 24, and Junior, 27, of Norwich, NY, and one 15 guests are traveling hundreds of miles to share with them.

It’s been a long road—two years of hard work and determination, balancing time for each other, rigorous study, a 45-minute commute and family; but it has been worth every trial the Nelsons have endured to attain their proud moment.
“It’s the most exciting feeling knowing we started and finished something,” Carla said. “We did this together.”
Their day began with the same united approach.

The Nelsons commute to school together in the morning and return home together at night, take classes together and spend the hours in-between studying together. During clinical, they shared the same floor on the cardiac unit at St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital and even worked in the same place—the campus cyber lab.

Their hearts are in the same place too. Both members of the College Science/Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), they were active in that organization’s volunteer activities to raise money for food and clothing for needy people in the community.

They have also both been selected to attend the CARE National Conference and Celebration in Washington, D.C. May 5, which focuses on poverty fighting programs and initiatives, women’s empowerment and equity and social justice.

Such an arrangement might put some couples on the fast track to divorce. But for Carla and Junior, going through life as a team has been rewarding in every turn.

The Nelsons met at Morrisville through mutual friends while Junior was a student obtaining his bachelor degree in information technology and Carla was a student at Broome Community College.

It didn’t take them long to bond as friends. After dating for two years, they got married and had a daughter, Elisa Rose.

Both had an inherent interest in nursing that led them to pursue something else as a pair—college.
They started out at the Norwich campus, which offers students the opportunity to take their first year of nursing courses there or at the Morrisville campus.

“People advised us not to go to school together or share a classroom,” Carla said. “Nobody thought it would work.”
But it’s proved nothing but success for the Nelsons, who excelled in the classroom, Carla being named to the Dean’s list and Junior getting pretty good grades, too.
 
A classroom rivalry continually pushes them to excel.

“She is so competitive,” Junior said laughing. “But that’s okay because I’m better in math.”

He’s also better at taking tests, something he’s gently coached Carla through.

“Before a test, if he told me I was going to pass, I knew I really was,” she said.

It’s helped – having each other’s unwavering support.

“We support each other mentally and emotionally,” Carla said. That extends outside of the classroom too, where they are best friends.

But there are times when being together around the clock can be trying, too, they both admit.

“We study together so we sometimes make the same mistakes,” Carla said.

And then there is the issue of needing space, something they don’t get very often.

“He has learned how to tune me out,” Carla joked. “I know when to give him his space and I accept him for who he is, even if he is too neat.”

But his tidiness helps with her organization shortfall, Junior quipped.

Despite differences, they have been drawn together by a greater force. Destiny is what Carla believes brought Junior, a native of Haiti, to Brooklyn in the first place.

The future holds big plans for the venturous couple. They are moving back to Brooklyn the day after commencement and Carla is making plans to transfer into Morrisville State College’s bachelor degree in nursing, a program that will allow her take a portion of classes online. Junior is contemplating pursuing a master’s degree in nursing informatics.
 
While they are heading in different directions in terms of careers, Junior in medical informatics and Carla in nurse anesthesia, they do, of course, plan to work at the same hospital.

While commencement signifies the close of one more of their dreams, it doesn’t take away Carla’s competitive nature. Since her name comes before Junior’s alphabetically, she will get her nursing diploma first.

Morrisville State College offers more than 75 bachelor and associate degrees and options including a new bachelor degree in business administration, a bachelor of technology degree in criminal justice and an associate degree in renewable energy technology.

Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.

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