BERLIN — It takes a special person to be a successful nurse: strength, expertise, resiliency, attention to detail and above all compassion.

For Mary Anne Baillargeon, her role as a caregiver for her own mother motivated her to become a nurse and her lifelong dedication to others inspired her daughter, Donna Baillargeon-Chaloux, and her granddaughter, Dawn Chaloux, to do the same. As a result, three generations of nurses from the family graduated from White Mountain Community Colleges (WMCC) nursing program and have been caring for individuals in the region for more than four decades.

“When I was 12 years old, I started taking care of my mother, who was a diabetic. She lost her vision, and I had to give her insulin and test her blood sugars, which was much harder years ago,” Mary Anne said. “Then, fast forward, I was a single mother and wanted to do something I enjoyed. I took a nurse’s aide course at White Mountains Community College (WMCC). A wonderful pediatrician who worked with my children told me I could be a nurse. I believed him, and that’s what I did. I graduated in 1978.”

Mary Anne’s daughter, Donna, grew up watching her mother. “I loved taking care of people and knew I wanted to be in the medical field,” Donna said. “I started my career at 14 years old in the laundry room of a nursing home because I knew I wanted to be a nurse one day.”

Unlike her mother and grandmother, nursing wasn’t an immediate desire for Dawn. She wanted to forge her own path. “I have two aunts and a cousin in addition to my mom, and grandmother who are all nurses,” Dawn said. “I didn’t want to do the same thing they had all done. I moved to Florida to go to college. Then, it hit me one day, I remembered how rewarding it was for all of them and I wanted a career like that. I applied to White Mountains and moved back to Berlin to start my nursing education.”

For all three women, they chose the nursing program at WMCC because they could get an affordable, quality education that was close to home, which allowed them to find support within their family. The small class sizes were another draw for each of them.

“The intimate class sizes at WMCC were a huge asset for me because I got to do things, especially in clinicals, that students in huge schools didn’t get to do,” Dawn said. “Because of the hands-on learning, I got a better education and my clinical experience set me up for my career.”

For those interested in starting a career in healthcare, Donna recommends nursing with resounding enthusiasm. “It’s the best career out there because you can go anywhere in the world to get a job and specialize in so many areas. I’ve spent time as a surgical nurse, a psychiatric nurse and even an occupational health nurse throughout my career.”

Today, Dawn is a full-time assistant nurse manager and is also finishing up her doctorate degree in nursing practice full-time. “WMCC gave me the foundation and pushed me in the right direction. Now, there’s no stopping me.”

At 80 years old, Mary Anne, the matriarch who started it all, still takes care of those around her by driving them to appointments. “Even today, when I drive by the college, I can’t help but reminisce on the place that was such a wonderful part of my life all those years ago.”

The Associate of Science in Nursing at WMCC is approved by the New Hampshire Board of Nursing (NHBON) and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Upon satisfactory completion of the program, graduates are eligible to apply to the New Hampshire Board of Nursing (NHBON) and Pearson VUE NCLEX Candidate Services for the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Learn more about the program on the WMCC website.

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