Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Deployed veteran earns doctorate from Capstone

Dara Warren always managed to complete her school assignments, even while being deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as a military nurse.

“When I worked in Iraq, my hospital was a tent. We worked six days of the week, and you stayed busy; and if you’re not working, you’re sleeping. A lot of people are in school while they’re deployed,” Warren said. “The Internet is amazing.”

After Warren graduated with her bachelor’s degree in nursing from The University of Alabama, she joined the U.S. Air Force to work as a military nurse.

“After I graduated with my bachelor’s, I was working full time and the environment of the military just made sense. The opportunity to travel and do something different and unique and the educational opportunities drew me to it,” Warren said. “That’s why I chose that route. I’ve been in for nine years since then and I’ve had a lot of really great experiences that I would never have had if I wasn’t a military nurse. I’ve had an opportunity to do travel nursing, but in a different kind of way.”

After Warren’s first deployment to Iraq, she wanted to pursue a master’s program in nursing at the University, even though she was concerned about being able to complete the rigorous coursework.

“They had the online master’s in nursing program, and I started looking into that when I got back from Iraq,” Warren said. “I asked my professor Dr. Stanton, who also served as a military nurse, about it and she was very understanding and knew what the military life was like. She said that she didn’t think it would be a problem and that I would meet all of the requirements regardless of where I was,” Warren said. “Two weeks later I moved to Japan.”

Linda Dunn, a professor in the Capstone College of Nursing, said despite being thousands of miles away, Warren always managed to complete her assignments.

“I do not think there was any difference in teaching her as compared to any other graduate student in an online program,” Dunn said. “I do not think that Dara’s being deployed was any more a challenge for her than it was for any other student. The Internet services were great – we just worked ‘as normal’ even though we were on totally different time zones.”

After completing her master’s online, Warren decided she wanted to pursue a doctoral degree, as well.

“I thought that I’m already in the groove of school and it’s much easier to continue. At that point, I was familiar with the graduate faculty. They were very understanding of my circumstances,” Warren said. “Before my last two semesters, I found out that I was going to be deployed, so I called them immediately and ask what my requirements might be and what the demand on my time might be.”

Marietta Stanton, the director of the graduate nursing programs, said during her time as Warren’s instructor, she was able to relate and follow Warren through her deployment, because she also served as a military nurse.

“Dara was my student in her master’s program and in her doctoral program. She is my hero. I am retired military, but I basically have followed her through Iraq and two deployments to Afghanistan,” Stanton said. “Even though I am her instructor, she basically became my friend. We spend a lot of time talking about things to keep her well-rounded and centered.”

Warren said the ease with which she earned her degrees, even from so far away, demonstrated the Capstone’s commitment to being military-friendly.

“I think the University is very military-friendly,” Warren said. “So many people who have been deployed and want to look into educational programs, but very few programs advertise their opportunities, so they think there are only a few schools that are available. I tell people all the time, ‘find the school you want to go to and just ask, you’ll be surprised what opportunities and how accommodating they are.’”

Stanton said she works with fellow veterans on campus to help continue the University’s commitment to veterans.

“There is a lot of movement on this campus,” Stanton said. “Coming from the North, I find the university here much more receptive and supportive of the military then every place I’ve been.”

Dunn said Warren serves as a positive role model for all students at the University.

“Dara is most definitely a role model for other students,” Dunn said. “She can truly say that no matter what you face in life, set goals; stay focused; never throw in the towel; and expect the sun to shine tomorrow.”

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