Military Student Spotlight: Kristen Stark

By Kristen Stark

American flag against blue sky

As a new mom pursuing a secondary education, one of the most important things for me is being able to complete the curriculum in an online environment. Grand Canyon University (GCU) provides me that opportunity while continuing to provide a nurturing home for our first child. Knowing that GCU is founded upon Christian values and beliefs only increased my interest in attending.

Why I Chose GCU

The fact that GCU was founded as a Baptist school that strives to shine the light of Christ to students, spoke volumes to me. I obtained my registered nursing (RN) diploma from Baptist School of Nursing in Little Rock, Arkansas, which instills many of those core values throughout its organization and staff. I loved that I had instructors who were bold in faith and caring enough to pray with me not only during my failures, but also my successes. For example, during my senior year, I experienced a miscarriage. I was immediately comforted by God’s grace, knowing that my instructors were fervently praying for my family.

In addition to my faith in God, the support GCU has shown for the military is well noted through their active participation at the Enlisted Association events. I married a man who has spent 18 years serving in the Army National Guard as an active guard/reserve service member. I see how hard he works day in and day out serving this country while providing for our family at the same time, so I am immensely thankful to find a school that supports military families.

I have not come across any RN to BSN programs that are Christian based, support the military and are a top-ranking nursing school all in one. It is the trifecta of nursing programs, and I relish the opportunity to further my education at this institution.

How Did I Get to GCU?

I started my college journey in 2000 at the University of Central Arkansas as a dietician major. Like most high school students, I was unaware of the rigors and challenges that I would soon come to face. I quickly found that trying to finance my way through school would inevitably end with mounting student loan debt.

Throughout my tenure, I worked multiple part-time and full-time jobs to try and pay my way through college, but could never seem to gain traction. I never gave up even though discouragement would often try to creep in to my life. I relied on my faith in God to eventually take a step back and evaluate my short-term goals.

In 2011, I enrolled at the Baptist School of Nursing to pursue a RN license. The challenges that I experienced earlier in life, as well as my husband, helped prepare and support me for those trying times. In 2014, I graduated with an RN license, and God opened up a new door with a career at Baptist Hospital in neonatology. Now, I am at a point where I know that furthering my education would benefit my current career as a neonatal intensive care nurse.

My short-term educational goals are to graduate with my BSN and eventually pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). This will directly support a lifelong dream of mine to work with Mercy Ships, which is a nonprofit organization that provides medical care off the west coast of Africa and surrounding islands. My experiences on Rwandan mission trips with my church placed on my heart the overwhelming desire to help people.

In December 2015, my husband and I brought our first child into this world. My experiences have caused me to become extremely resilient and I now garner a greater appreciation for my struggles. While raising a child into a young man in this world, I will inevitably have to rely on the knowledge gained from those struggles. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that GCU provides and for the Christian values that resonate throughout the university.

More about Kristen Stark:

Kristen StarkKristen Stark is currently working as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Baptist Medical Center. She is married to Master Sergeant Ryan Stark, and they have an amazing eight-month-old baby boy named Beckett Kingsley. In addition to their son, she plays mom to a spoiled eight-year-old English bulldog named Maximus. In June 2014, Kristen graduated from the registered nurse (RN) program at Baptist Health College of Little Rock. That jump-started her career in the neonatal nursing field. She has lived in the Little Rock area most of her life, but currently resides in Sherwood, Arkansas. The majority of her experience and background is in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis in dietetics. Kristen is eternally thankful for her opportunities at GCU and excited to continue her education to obtain her BSN. Her long-term goal is to eventually graduate with her master’s degree and put that knowledge into action for those who need it most.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.


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