Faye Lewis has overcome many challenges to achieve her dream career in nursing. Single motherhood, deaths in the family, and working multiple jobs have made her journey harder but not impossible for Faye who graduated with her BSN degree last year and recently began a doctorate in nursing program through the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing as part of her long-term goal to become a nurse practitioner.
On September 6, Lewis posted a photo to Facebook showing all of the nametags and work IDs she has proudly worn throughout her journey to a successful nursing career while working jobs to support herself and her son, AJ. The post quickly went viral, inspiring more than 100,000 shares and 4,000 comments of encouragement from across the country, almost all of them from strangers.
Lewis, 27, is currently a registered nurse (RN) working full-time on the intermediate-care unit at Memorial Medical Center. She is the youngest child of four in a working-class family from Springfield, IL. Her journey started over 10 years ago when she got her first job as a KFC crew member at 16 years old. She has also held positions as a housekeeper at an assisted-living center, nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and now registered nurse.
Lewis says she initially posted the photo of her job badges to help encourage herself. She tells the State Journal-Register, “I was having a rough day. It was the second week of grad school. So the response that the post received was very shocking to me.” Looking at all that she overcome gives her the motivation to keep going. Lewis has faced many challenges along the way from becoming a single parent at age 20 to the loss of her father and three other family members in a house fire in 2013.
Through it all, she remembers her lifelong dream to become a nurse and continues to find a way to pursue that passion. After beginning her career as a CNA, Lewis worked her way up through an LPN program, associate’s degree in nursing, and finally her bachelor’s degree in nursing which she completed in 2016 through Benedictine University.
Lewis admits it hasn’t been easy to be an employee, student, and mother at the same time, but she has had much-needed help throughout her journey from family and colleagues. Cathy Steckel, director of nursing operations at Memorial Medical Center, tells SJ-R.com, “Her story certainly speaks to the passion she has for nursing. She’s an integral part of a great nursing team at Memorial.”
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