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Mandy Pellew

Mandy Pellew was nearing the big four-oh when she returned to Weber State University after two decades away from college. 

“I got married and wanted to take a little break, but then I started having kids, so it turned into a long break,” Pellew said. “It’s a pretty common thing to see people take long breaks and then jump back in when the time is right.” 

For Pellew, that time was the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. By then, she had four children ranging from teen to infant. 

Nursing student Mandy Pellew wears purple scrubs and holds a nursing textbook “That’s when everything went online, people were working from home, and there was no better time,” Pellew said. “I went back to Weber and wrapped up all my prerequisites for the nursing program.” 

She then transitioned briefly to Davis Technical College, which partners with Weber State through a regional pathway agreement where credits for nursing transfer easily to WSU, making for smoother transitions between schools and into careers.

At 42, Pellew earned her associate’s in nursing from Weber State. Her husband, Jamie, and children were with her at graduation — a common scene according to Rieneke Holman, chair of the Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing.

“I’ve noticed more nontraditional students coming back, usually for a second career,” Holman said. Nontraditional students are those who are 25 and older, have a spouse, are divorced or widowed, or have children. 

Currently, 53% of students in Weber State’s nursing programs — from associate through doctorate — are older than 25. 

“I love to see non-trad students go to nursing school because there’s so much value in their life experience,” Holman said. “If you've ever worked a customer service job, that helps with nursing. If you're part of a family and have lived with people who have health conditions or take meds, that helps with nursing. If you know how to advocate for someone, that helps with nursing.” 

That rings true for Pellew, who said she was always drawn to nursing but her interest grew through motherhood. 

“Becoming a nurse was always in the back of my mind, but as I raised my family I just desired it more and more,” Pellew said. “I saw how nursing opens up possibilities to continue caring for people.” 

Weber State’s nursing school, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, produces more graduates than any other program at the university. 

“I loved the professors,” Pellew said. “I feel like we get closer to our teachers here. They want you to succeed and will do everything they can to make that happen. They spend time mentoring us, figuring out our goals and what kind of job we want.” 

Pellew is now working toward a bachelor of science in nursing, which she plans to complete by August. She said she loves the relationships she’s made with fellow students.

“You really get to know and care for each other,” Pellew said. “We were like family throughout the program, and a lot of us stayed connected when we took nursing jobs.” 

Pellew works in the critical care unit at Ogden Regional Medical Center, where she sees “every kind of patient,” including people who have recently undergone surgery, experienced cardiac or breathing issues, or are coming off drugs and alcohol. 

“I can see that I’m making a difference in people’s lives,” Pellew said. “It’s a demanding career, but it’s been a blessing to me.”