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Elaine Llanos
Elaine Llanos
School of Nursing

I feel I'm keeping up more with technology, what's out there, and I have a more worldly view. It makes me feel younger.

Elaine Llanos' only regret about pursuing a master's degree as a nurse educator is that she didn't do it sooner.

The full-time oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan has been in the profession since 1981. "I've always wanted to teach," Llanos says, but she also wants to give back.

"Nursing has been very good to me," she said. "I've never been unemployed in 30 years." That commitment led to her being awarded the New York State Sen. Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty Scholarship, which requires her to teach nursing in the state for at least four years.

Llanos now has just weeks left in her studies, three and a half years after enrolling in the program. Two things inspired her to make the leap back then, she said: A CNR recruiter who visited where she works ("she was a nurse, so she got it"), and a daughter who had just started nursing school. Her daughter's excitement in learning was contagious, and now mother and daughter work together in the same hospital unit.

In a way, Llanos was already prepared to go back to school. "Nurses teach and learn all the time," she says, even when they're working or just interacting with colleagues. But she still had to make some adjustments -- conducting research online, finding library books without using the Dewey Decimal System, and new formats for citations. "Thank God I have good writing skills," she said.

Llanos also had to get used to being the oldest person in her classes. She recalled her first semester, when she had two classes with an hour break in between, and was the only student who brought snacks. Her classmates soon figured out who to go to for some sustenance. "I became the mom of the class," Llanos says. She says the CNR community has been welcoming. "Everyone's been really good," she says.

Her employer has also been supportive of her return to school, and has provided some schedule flexibility, "but it's a good thing I don't need a lot of sleep." It doesn't help that Llanos has become hooked on discovering new developments in nursing. "I've definitely got the bug of learning."

"I've learned a lot," she says, about her time at The College of New Rochelle. "I feel I'm keeping up more with technology, what's out there, and I have a more worldly view. It makes me feel younger."

Llanos' immediate plans after completing her studies include some travel. "I have a passport with zero stamps on it," she says, and will seek a part-time teaching position in the fall. "I need to get on it," she says, and doesn't expect too difficult a transition. "It's just a matter of getting the lay of the land."