Stacy Hess and her daughter Kayla Beaulieu at their 2022 graduation at SNHU
and at Stacy’s graduation from NSCC in 2000.
NSCC mother, daughter alums graduate
from SNHU nursing program together
Paul Leighton | Salem News | May 19, 2022
As a single mother, Stacy Hess has always had a special bond with her daughter, Kayla Beaulieu.
“It was just us growing up,” Beaulieu said. “We’ve always been close.”
That tight relationship was never more evident than when the mother and daughter from Beverly walked across the graduation stage together this month at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. Hess, 52, and Beaulieu, 26, both earned their bachelor of science in nursing degree, and they did it while working full-time as nurses during the pandemic.
“To be able to graduate with her, walk across the stage together, was just incredible,” Hess said. “It means so much to me.”
For Hess, the bachelor’s degree came more than two decades after she earned an associate’s degree in nursing from North Shore Community College in 2000. She has worked as nurse since then, including at Salem Hospital and currently as a hospice nurse at Care Dimensions in Danvers.
Beaulieu followed in her mother’s footsteps after graduating from Beverly High School in 2014, going on to earn her associate’s in nursing at North Shore CC. When she graduated and began looking at bachelor’s degree programs, she and her mother said, “How about we both do it together?”
For the last year or so Hess and Beaulieu, who live together, took on-line courses at Southern New Hampshire University while working full-time on the front lines of the pandemic. Beaulieu works on the cardiac floor at Lahey Hospital in Burlington.
Beaulieu said Hess would help her with a certain class if she had taken it before she did. Hess said her daughter helped her with the technical aspect of on-line learning.
“It was like starting over for me,” Hess said. “I had taken a couple of classes at Salem State (after graduating from NSCC), but life happened and it was hard for me to finish up. Having my experience helped her, and she helped me with the on-line piece. We just helped each other through it.”
Working as nurses during a pandemic, of course, made everything more difficult.
“It’s honestly been very, very challenging,” Beaulieu said. “A lot of nurses have left the profession. That was hard. It’s been a journey.”
Beaulieu said walking across the graduation stage with her mother was especially gratifying because Beaulieu never had a graduation ceremony at NSCC due to the pandemic. The graduation traditionally includes a “pinning ceremony” in which graduates receive their nursing pins.
“I was going to have my mom pin me,” Beaulieu said. “We couldn’t do that.”
Hess said one of her favorite photos has always been the one of her holding 4-year-old Kayla in her arms after Hess’ graduation ceremony at North Shore. Now she has a new favorite — the one of them graduating together.
“I didn’t necessarily think she would follow in my footsteps,” Hess said. “It’s really special that she has.”