Like mother, like daughter. Or is it like daughter, like mother?
That’s a question Lisa Kessler and daughter Cassandra haven’t quite pinned down.
The mother-daughter duo on Friday graduated together from Nebraska Methodist College with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.
Both of the Springfield, Nebraska, women started pursuing the field of nursing around the same time.
“It wasn’t intended by design,” Lisa Kessler, 54, said. “It just kind of happened.”
Lisa’s father nudged her toward the career. She helped to care for him during his battle with leukemia. Shortly before his death, he encouraged her to consider becoming a nurse.
Initially she laughed it off. Her brain is geared more toward creativity and less toward math and science, she said.
But she reflected on it after his death and thought he was seeing something she didn’t.
“I have a pretty strong maternal instinct,” said Lisa, who spent 25 years as a stay-at-home mother. “When my kids started college, I had nobody to take care of anymore. That was the driving force behind it. I wasn’t done taking care of people.”
Meanwhile, her daughter Cassandra was exploring nursing classes at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Cassandra, 26, said she’s always been interested in the health care career.
After getting some prerequisites at Metropolitan Community College under their belts, the Kessler women enrolled full-time at Nebraska Methodist College.
For the last three and a half years, the mother-daughter duo shared every class together. Yes, every class.
And at first, they had to set some boundaries. At school, they were peers, not mother and daughter. Early on, Lisa’s questions in class embarrassed her daughter.
“I was the only 20-something going to school with my mom,” Cassandra said.
Getting back into the swing of school took some adjusting for Lisa. Like telling her classmates that she wasn’t the teacher.
“I knew what to expect going back to college, but I did have to chisel a little rust off the brain and learn how to study again,” Lisa said.
The Kesslers often did homework and studied together at their Springfield home, the library or restaurants. Once they got the hang of things, their nursing school journey was fun and the two women learned from each other.
Lisa said she’s proud of her daughter. Completing the journey together has brought them even closer. Lisa also takes some satisfaction knowing that she went back to school and finished.
“This was something I really wanted to do,” she said. “I was able to pursue it without missing a beat.”
Cassandra said she was inspired by seeing her mom complete “something as tough as nursing school.”
Both women landed post-graduation jobs. At the same hospital. On the same shift. They’ll be working nights at Methodist Hospital, with Lisa on the cardiac floor and Cassandra on the orthopedic and neurology floor.
Mom’s pretty insistent on sharing the commute. After all, they carpooled to the occasional class and clinical assignment.
“She keeps telling everybody that we’re going to carpool together,” Cassandra said.
But Cassandra hasn’t come around yet on the idea. Three-and-a-half years in the classroom might have been enough time to bond.