By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Susan Bay has been a student for as long as her kids can remember. When she graduated from the Belanger School of Nursing on Aug. 1, 4-year-old Rogan and 6-year-old Jaxton were there to cheer her across the stage.
“We’re going to clap for you the loudest,” Bay said her kids promised before the ceremony.
One of a class of 15, Bay said the achievement means a lot to her.
“It’s very involved,” she said. “It’s a lot more work than I thought it was going to be.” But she was dedicated and, just before graduation, found out she had earned high honors.
“Being a single mom of two, to get high honors was challenging,” she said. “It’s a whole new start.”
Bay entered the Ellis Hospital-affiliated nursing program two years ago because she was getting divorced. Bay had been a stay-at-home mom, but with single motherhood approaching, she decided to take on night and weekend classes so she could support her two young sons.
“The kids are so proud,” she said. “They go by Ellis and say, ‘That’s where mommy works,” because they think it’s work when I go to school.”
Bay hopes their description will become even more accurate in the near future. She still has to pass the state licensing boards now that she has a diploma, but once she completes that test she hopes to work at Bellevue Woman’s Center.
“I’m really excited to be around babies,” she said. “It’s a little surreal right now. We’ve done so much preparation for it.”
Although it hasn’t been easy juggling parenthood and school, Bay said her medical education has paid off in more ways than one. Rogan now wants to be a veterinarian, or more specifically, an “orange cat doctor” in honor of the family pet.
Both have turned out to have a caretaking streak, just like their mom. Their cat, who is aging, is sick and has to be fed pills. Bay’s kids help make sure their kitty gets his medicine, but she laughs when she recalls the ways they’ve tried to go above and beyond.
“One day there was broccoli on the cat tower,” she said. When she asked why, the brothers, who love vegetables, told her that broccoli would make the cat healthy again.
Once she lands a nursing job, Bay plans to take a semester or two off, then head back to school for her bachelor’s degree. She’s decided not to tell her two biggest fans, Rogan and Jaxton, until after they’ve had a chance to celebrate a bit.
“We’re taking them next week to the beach for a vacation,” she said. “For two years of nursing school, it’s been pretty much full time. I’ve pretty much been in school since they were born, so they are so excited.”
“It’s an incredibly difficult and incredibly challenging program, but it’s been worth it,” she said. “You’re taking care of people, and it’s pretty much the best job in the world.”