Overcoming the odds and reaching a dream


Goal-setting takes on new meaning when you meet Karen Callahan. Seven months pregnant with her fourth child, she knew she wanted to be a nurse in a neo-natal unit. She had always considered it a dream to put off until her children were born and then one day she asked herself, "Why am I going to wait?"

Four years and a fifth child later, she will be graduating from Fairfield University's School of Nursing on Sunday, May 20. And that job in the neo-natal unit is hers - she begins this summer at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The four years have been a roller coaster she says, and the demands on her time extraordinary. But was it worth it? "Well worth it," she says with a broad smile. She will be graduating with a 3.83 GPA and has been inducted into Mu Chi, the Fairfield University chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Nursing Honor Society.

She credits the faculty and students in her class with helping her make it through. When she started the nursing program she had four daughers: Christine, 6; Evelyn 4; Hannah 2; and Haley 3 weeks. A year ago, little Gregory was born, but not without incident. During labor Karen went into septic shock and had a very difficult delivery.

Still she forged ahead. Stuck with school vacations or no sitter, she would at times bring her children with her to class. With books and pictures to color, they kept busy while Mommy learned. Weekends Karen would head down to the university to do some serious studying, often with a child in tow, all packed for an adventure at Fairfield.

Some faculty members and students would baby-sit when things got really tough. Her faculty at Fairfield couldn't have been more understanding and supportive, she says. And she is going to miss her younger classmates who, "kind of adopted my kids," especially last summer when they would pass little Gregory around from one set of arms to another.

Karen had a degree in accounting and before children had worked as a tax consultant for Deloitte and Touche in Boston and then as a corporate tax officer for Fleet. She now joins her husband Terry and father-in-law John as a graduate of Fairfield University.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 26, 2001

Vol. 33, No. 208