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Gateway graduate Lynda Breeden accomplishes ‘family goal’ of earning college degree

By Natalie Hamren
NKyTribune reporter

Lynda Breeden knew the names of at least 500 kids when she worked as a school cook for seven years and manager for eight years at Dry Ridge Elementary. Eventually, she sought out a higher position, but the only thing holding her back was an associate’s degree.

“I figured if I were going back to college then I would go back and do something I would really love to do the rest of my life,” Breeden said. “So, that is when I decided to go back to be a nurse. I had nursed my sister-in-law back to health a few times and it was kind of a calling for me. I love to serve the Lord and help others, so nursing was the path I chose.”

Lynda Breeden

When Breeden first enrolled at Gateway Community & Technical College, she said she was nervous to be back at school after 30 years. However, she was also extremely excited about the journey.

“I started college when I was 18, and it was not a good experience because I was too young,” Breeden said. “My parents, with them not being in school, they [weren’t] able to direct me.”

Breeden’s parents never graduated high school, so she encouraged her own children to graduate college. Eventually, her whole family — including herself — all had college degrees.
“It was an amazing feeling to know that I am the last in my family to get a college degree … So, in the last 10 years, my whole family has graduated from college with degrees,” Breeden said. “My husband’s parents and my parents never even graduated from high school, but both our mothers went back and got their GED when they were in their 40s.”

While Breeden was in school at Gateway, her husband was her greatest support, she said. He encouraged her every day throughout all of her studies, would support her after she did poorly on a test and helped her study.
She also met many friends at Gateway that she now considers lifelong friends. While in school, a friend of hers would pray for her when Breeden had tests, even setting timers every day to pray at the same time.
“Without all of them, the rest of my family and church family, I could not have done it. God has made me to be a very strong-willed person and to work hard to achieve great things—most importantly my Lord Jesus and his grace and mercy,” Breeden said.
While at Gateway, Breeden worked in the bookstore which she said was a blessing. Breeden worked in between her semesters, prepping all the books for the next semester. She received discounts on her books and said it was nice not having to work while she was in school.

Now Breeden is a Gateway Community & Technical College nursing graduate with the goal of getting her bachelor’s and master’s in nursing from Northern Kentucky University. In the future, Breeden wants to work in family nursing after she becomes a nurse practitioner. 

“Wherever the Lord takes me, I’ll just follow his lead and let him guide me—that’s usually the way I roll my life. However he leads,” Breeden said.

Breeden said she is most proud of accomplishing her Gateway experience as a whole. She never thought she would be good enough to finish.

“I was a lunch lady, and then I was a manager of a whole cafeteria,” Breeden said. “I’m strong-willed, so I’m a pretty jerky girl. I’m pretty determined, but I was always like, ‘could I do that?’”

Now, Breeden said she’ll hear certain medical and nursing terms and understand what they mean. 

“It’s just really amazing how much knowledge I’ve picked up and that I was able to learn it,” Breeden said.

The thing Breeden is looking forward to most when she obtains all her degrees is helping people. She wants to be a loving, compassionate nurse.

“There’s nothing worse than going into a room, being a sick person and having a cranky nurse come in,” Breeden said. “I just pray that the love of Jesus comes with me every time I go in a room and just brightens the way and helps them feel better, get better and make their experience the best that I can make it be.”

Natalie Hamren is the Mike Farrell Intern for the NKyTribune, writing a series of stories about NKY’s college students and how they are coping in the COVID environment. She is also editor of the Northerner, NKU’s independent student newspaper.

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