A marriage made in math class
By Dana Chrysler
Everett Community College Alumni Outreach Specialist
EvCC played an integral role in the lives of Cameron and Becky Wright: the two met and married while attending EvCC and earned degrees that laid a foundation for their lives today. Cameron is now a nurse practitioner in the intensive care unit at the University of Washington Medical Center and a teaching associate with the UW School of Medicine. “EvCC was a launch pad to my dreams of becoming a registered nurse,” Cameron reflects. EvCC also ignited a love for education and led to Becky’s teaching degree. “There’s a place for everyone to do well and fit in at EvCC,” she says. In this interview Cameron and Becky share more about their backgrounds and how EvCC impacted their lives today.
Tell me about your family. Where you grew up? Did you have brothers or sisters?
Becky: I was born and raised in Everett. I really love this town….so much so that I've never left. I have two sisters, one is two years younger and the other is nine years younger. My parents divorced when I was a toddler. My mom lived in Everett and my dad, stepmom and half sister lived in Snohomish.
Cameron: I grew up in Arlington, Washington with my mother, step-father and three sisters. My biological father was not involved in my childhood or upbringing to any meaningful extent.
Did your parents go to college and did they encourage you to attend college?
Becky: My mom went back to school when I was a teenager. She attended both EvCC and North Seattle Community College. She has a degree in computer science and works for AT&T wireless. My dad went to EvCCand holds associate degrees in Spanish and criminal investigation. I didn't go to college right after high school. My parents were very supportive and encouraged me to go back and get my degree, so I started at EVCC when I was twenty-three-- my mom literally drove me to the college, picked out my classes, and got me signed up.
Cameron: My step father had a master's in education and was a teacher at Arlington High School. My mom had her master's in psychology and was a therapist. Strangely, I was not really encouraged to go to college. I had really bad ADHD as a child and teenager, and I guess my parents did not think I had the focus or ability to succeed.
When and where did you graduate from high school?
Becky: I graduated from Everett High School in 1989.
Cameron: I graduated from Arlington High School in 1987.
How did you choose EvCC? Was there a selection process involved in your decision making?
Becky: As I mentioned before, my mom took me to the college. In 1994, I was living in Everett and worked in Everett, so it was a good fit. My life was at a standstill. I didn't have a career and I needed to change directions. I had been out of school for five years; I was scared to go back to school. In high school, I spent more time socializing than studying and my grades suffered.
In reality, once I started classes I realized that I could do it. If I showed up, did the work and studied, I could do well--and I did. The campus was the perfect size for me, not too large, yet big enough to not stand out. I was afraid that I would seem too old for college. Little did I know that the classes were filled with all ages!
Cameron: I chose to attend EvCC for a number of reasons. Given my circumstances, I had to work full-time to support myself after high school, so I needed to attend a college that had flexibility in classes and was not geared solely towards the "typical college student." It was also local. I was working in a saw mill in Arlington at night and I was able to drive to Everett to attend class in a reasonable amount of time. Most importantly, it had the programs that I was interested in (nursing pre-reqs and nursing)
Do you think your time at EvCC helped you pursue your current career? How?
Becky: Yes, I had always been interesting in teaching, but as my time went by at EvCC, it became even more clear how much I enjoyed the classroom environment. I took a class at EvCC that was geared to students exploring the field of education. I loved it! It solidified for me that I wanted to become a teacher.
After taking that course, I began looking into Western's education program. I knew that EvCC housed Western's satellite program. In order to apply for the program and meet the requirements for the start of the program in the fall, I had to finish my AA (associate’s degree). I took 18 credits spring quarter and 21 credits in the summer so that I could finish my AA in time to begin Western's program in the fall of 1995.
Cameron: Everett Community College was my launch pad to my dreams of becoming a registered nurse. I was able to work full-time supporting myself, and later, my family, AND get my nursing pre-reqs out of the way.
What did you do after you left (or graduated from) EvCC?
Becky: After graduating from EvCC, I began Western's education program at the EvCC campus. In reality, I ended up spending a total of almost five years at the EvCC campus. I graduated from Western in 1998 with a BA (bachelor’s degree) in education and received my Washington state teaching certificate.
Along the way to earning my degrees, Cam and I got married and had a baby, a precious boy named Connor. While Cam worked on finishing his degree, I worked several different jobs in the teaching field. From 1996-2003, I worked as a substitute teacher for Everett and Marysville school districts, as well as a tutor for the Everett district to children with medical issues, and at Sylvan as a tutor. I also worked for NSCC (North Seattle Community College) as an instructor for two years, teaching an “Introduction to Computers” class.
After our second child, Patrick, was born in 2003, I decided to stay home with the kids. In 2006, we adopted a baby boy, Sean, from Ethiopia. In 2008, we brought home a baby girl, also adopted from Ethiopia-- and then I gave birth to our youngest son, Liam. We now have five beautiful children. It's busy and we love it! Being a teacher has made me a better mom. I still spend time in a classroom too. I volunteer in my kids' classrooms and I love it.
Cameron: I was accepted into Seattle University's School of Nursing in 1999 and graduated cum laude in 2001.
Did you ever envision your current career while in college?
Cameron: Yes and no. I was working hard to become a registered nurse, but I didn't know that I would end up in the intensive care unit.
What courses or activities did you find to be most valuable and how did they help prepare you for your professional career or success in life?
Cameron: I love biology and the life sciences. I use the anatomy and physiology I studied at EvCC every day in my job as a nurse practitioner in the intensive care unit at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC).
Was there anyone during your time at EvCC who acted as a mentor for you? Tell me about that relationship and why it was valuable.
Cameron: Not really, I did however meet my wife in a math class. She is the love of my life and a source of great inspiration and happiness.
Any moments that stood out as especially memorable while at EvCC?
Becky: I was lucky to meet my husband Cam in an Algebra class my second quarter at EvCC. I was actually engaged to be married, but when I met Cam (and the sparks flew), I called off my wedding and the rest is history. I can't imagine a better life than the one I have.
Cameron: Aside from meeting my wife? College was not easy for me. I was working full-time, mostly at night, with a new wife and a special needs child. I remember being tired a lot, and given my ADHD, working really hard on focusing and time management.
What is your lasting impression of EvCC?
Becky: A great place for all different kinds of students. Everyone from Running Start, to those finishing their GED, to those right out of high school, to those who have been out of school for a long time. Everyone can do well and fit in at EvCC.
Cameron: It is the quintessential Launch Pad. It is a great place for those of us who did not follow the "traditional" road to a college education.
What helped you stay motivated, both in school, and in your career?
Becky: My husband and I both wanted to have careers that were fulfilling. We motivated each other to keep going.
Cameron: My desire to have my life be more than just a job.I wanted to make a difference with my life, and to be able to look back with pride on the choices I made and the individuals that I interacted with. At some point in everyone’s life, there is an accounting that takes place. I didn't want to specialize in "regret management."
Please tell me about your current position or career.
Becky: I'm a stay at home mom to our children. I love managing our crazy, busy family schedule.
Cameron: I am a nurse practitioner in the intensive care unit at the UWMC. I am also a teaching associate with the UW school of medicine. It is my dream job, getting to practice medicine and help train the new MDs as they rotate through the ICU in their training. Its highly rewarding
What do/did you find rewarding about it?
Becky: It is rewarding to watch my kids grow and see the fruits of our work and love with our children. I use what I learned about being a teacher every day.
Cameron: I have the opportunity to help someone every day, to teach medical residents about critical care in a busy, medical/surgical/solid organ transplant intensive care unit.
What do/did you find most challenging?
Becky: It is challenging to be home for so many hours without adult conversation. The years of sleepless nights were pretty hard, too. Thankfully, those years are behind us. The chaos of five busy kids can be tough at times, too.
Cameron: It can be scary at times. It can also be very emotionally draining, dealing with end of life issues with patients and their families.
Would you do anything differently if you had the chance to do it all over again?
Cameron: No….except to become a nurse sooner. I was 31 years old when I graduated from nursing school. I wish I would have done it sooner.
What were your keys to success?
Becky: Just Do It! I love the Nike ad campaign. Also, great support from Cam and our families.
Cameron: My determination to fulfill my goals, and an ability to live on four hours of sleep a night for weeks at a time.
What words of advice would you give to current ECC students?
Becky: Time is going to go by, anyway, so you might as well jump in there and Just Do It! Get your degree and the career you want….do it one quarter at a time.
Cameron: Aim high and reach for your dreams. Life is short and uncertain. Don't let fear or adversity stand in the way of what you want.
From this vantage point in life, what do you care about the most?
Becky: My family is what I care about the most. They give me so much joy and fill my life with love. I want each of them to grow up and choose a career that will make them happy. I want them to have love and happiness.
Cameron: My family and being the best nurse practitioner I can for my patients and their families.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Cameron: I love EvCC. At some point in my career, I would love to teach in the school of nursing as a way of giving back to my profession.