By: April Frawley Birdwell
With a thriving career under way in marketing, public relations and fundraising, Eleni Polopolus Sheehan still felt a little like a kid who didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“I thought what is my passion?” Sheehan says. “I realized that so much of what I cared about were some of things I was doing on the side to help other people with diabetes.”
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 9, Sheehan volunteered, helped friends and mentored a young child who also had the disease. With this in mind, she set a new goal — to become a diabetes educator and a nurse.
The only stumbling block, initially, was that she had always believed she wasn’t good at math or science. But she sailed through her prerequisites and was admitted into the College of Nursing’s accelerated B.S.N. program, which is offered to students who already have an undergraduate degree.
The first semester was “overwhelming,” Sheehan says, but by the second, she realized she had made the right choice. Now, a year-and-a-half later, she finished the program this semester and graduated. She has applied for graduate school to become a family nurse practitioner and hopes to do that and work part time.
“I think I can help people from a unique perspective,” she says. “During my practicum, I had a wonderful opportunity to work one on one with students (at an elementary school) with Type 1. For children, especially, it’s a family thing. It affects everyone and everyone needs to be together.”
Click here to learn about other faculty, staff and students from across UF&Shands who inspire us and remind us that it’s never too late to reach for new dreams.