This archived article was written by: Veronica Tita
A first-generation student who achieved the top nursing degree possible, spoke to USU Eastern student about going after your dreams. The seminar was sponsored by TRiO, an organization dedicated to helping nontraditional low-income students with their academic careers.
Dr. Danielle Pendergrass was born in Price, Utah and even received two degrees from USU Eastern when it was still College of Eastern Utah. Her father is a small-business owner and when the time came for Pendergrass to graduate from high school her parents wanted her to use the $1,000 they had saved to by a car. “I’m gonna be a nurse!” she told them.
When Pendergrass was 16, she accompanied a close friend to Planned Parenthood in Price. She had the opportunity to closely assist her friend and work with the nurses there. She was fascinated and decided that that was what she wanted to do with her life.
However, due to defunding, Planned Parenthood left Price. This inspired Pendergrass to pursue her own practice.
Pendergrass was a first-generation college student whose parents weren’t a hundred percent on-board with her decision to attend school. By the time she was a junior in college, however, she was hanging with the wrong crowd and getting terrible grades. Her basketball friends weren’t the best influence and when she finally realized her mistakes, she needed to attend day and night school to be able to graduate her senior year.
During her days of hanging with basketball team, Pendergrass friends all had to apply for FASFA. She didn’t know what that was and when she finally figured it out, the process was difficult. Her parents were self-employed and getting their tax information was always a struggle due to deadlines.
However, she was able to figure it out and once she got her LPN, the ball really started rolling. She needed that accomplishment to help her get going and after that it was just one degree after the other.
“Success is being able to do what you want to do and to be an asset to you community.” Pendergrass states. Now she owns the Women’s Health Clinic which is the Planned Parenthood of Price. She gets to talk to and educate women while giving back to her community.
However, Pendergrass’ success doesn’t end there. She is a member of AARP and is currently working on getting a billed passed that will allow women above the poverty line by a hundred and thirty percent to apply for free contraceptive.
Pendergrass shares her story because she feels it is her responsibility to help others succeed and she left us with a few words of advice.
You can apply for scholarships and then you can apply for them again and again. She and her sister used to have competitions to see who could find the weirdest scholarships available.
“You have got to put the effort into it!” There are tons of scholarships out there for all kinds of situations. “What are they gonna tell you? No? Big deal!” Keep trying. She also recommends showing gratitude for the people who helped you out and to invest back in the community when you can.
Pendergrass did not have the support of her parents at first and if you are the same as her, she urges you to find a mentor at your school who can help you navigate through college. And whether you have the support or not, it is important to have the drive. She didn’t have TRIO when she was in college. “Take advantage of the resources you have.”
She concluded the seminar recommending yoga. It is important to have a hobby to help you calm down and center yourself.
She found success in what she loves and urges you to push yourself to do the same.