Mother and daughter due to graduate from SCC’s Nursing Program in May | SCC


Mother and daughter due to graduate from SCC’s Nursing Program in May

Published on Jan 31, 2024

The Somerset Community College (SCC) student duo of Donna Carter and Krystyn Aucoin embodies friendship, family, and determination.

Krystyn Aucoin with her husband and childBoth women are non-traditional students: Donna, 49, and Krystyn, 30, with four kids ranging from ages two through 13, and a deployed husband in the National Guard.

Observing these two nursing students at the Clinton Center, you might think these two are best friends. But they are more than that; they are mother and daughter changing the trajectory of their lives through higher education at SCC, positively influencing their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

Their journey has not been easy though.

It began when Donna decided to pursue nursing.

“My mom worked at the nursing home since I was a baby as a CNA,” Aucoin said.” I remember hanging out with her eating snacks and watching TV while she worked as early as I can remember.”

Donna had attempted school before in Indiana, where they previously lived, but encountered numerous obstacles, and accessing information on how to get in the classroom was nearly impossible.

“It is not like that in Kentucky,” Donna said. “I applied for college online for Fall 2022 and was accepted in under two weeks. The SCC website provided so much information that streamlined the process.”

Inspired by her mother, Krystyn applied to join her.

Aucoin and Carter in their nursing scrubs before attending classesBoth were accepted but kept their relationship hidden, fearing they wouldn’t be admitted to the same program. With only one car, they couldn’t commute to different locations.

Their concerns were unfounded, as their instructors and mentors welcomed them with open arms.

“The people here at SCC are more like family than college instructors. They encourage us daily, hold us accountable, and provide a safe space for us to be ourselves and seek advice or help when we need it,” Aucoin said. “Jennnifer Campbell a college counselor and Michelle Terwilliger a college Navigator at the Clinton Center have helped us significantly.”

The duo is set to graduate together in May, both as First-Generation College Students, just a few weeks before Krystyn’s husband, Staff Sergeant Austin Aucoin, returns home from his deployment in Jordan.

“It’s really hard.” Krystyn emotionally responded. “Some nights I sit on the phone in silence with my husband late at night while I am studying. There is a nine-hour difference and it’s the only opportunity to connect, and my only time I have to study at home with four kids.”

Krystyn has a ton of help from her mother as they both swap back and forth from duties in their home, children, and the demands of nursing school.

“The mom guilt never goes away, but it gets easier when your kids adjust to the schedule of daycare,” Aucoin said. “They really love it, and I can check in with them via cameras from my phone. I know they are going to benefit from all this.”

Aucoin and Carter with their nursing instructors, Billie Shelton and Donna VincentThe influence on Krystyn’s children and Donna’s grandchildren is already coming into view for the duo.

“My oldest daughter is 13, and she's already determined to come to SCC and become a nurse like us,” Aucoin said.

They encourage others to pursue their degree at any age.

“Never doubt yourself, always ask for help, stay positive, and most importantly don’t lose your sense of humor,” Carter said. “Life can be hard, but celebrate the small wins and never stop pursuing your dreams.”

They advise other students to balance the chaos by scheduling small things to look forward to every few weeks as an award. The mother and daughter duo enjoy going to the lake, hitting up amusement parks, or even going to a kickboxing match, something their family enjoys together.

After graduating in May, they plan to return to SCC to obtain their Registered Nurse certifications while working in the field with their newly acquired LPN certifications.

“Sometimes you just know when you’re destined to do something,” Carter said. “Nursing is that for me and always has been. If it wasn’t for SCC and the encouraging people here, I might have never done it. To do it with my daughter makes the wait well worth it.”