Just be yourself

Carolynn Armstrong is a senior in the nursing career tech throughout her life she has had to overcome many challenges, no matter what she continues to have a strong passion for learning and helping others
Big Surprise: Senior Carolynn Armstrong and school consular Theresa Rhoads stand in front of the nursing class. We wanted it to be a surprise so we made sure to through her a little party before she could find out, Rhoads said.  Carolynn covers her mouth in happiness and shock.
Big Surprise: Senior Carolynn Armstrong and school consular Theresa Rhoads stand in front of the nursing class. “We wanted it to be a surprise so we made sure to through her a little party before she could find out,” Rhoads said. Carolynn covers her mouth in happiness and shock.
Ashlynn Provance

The bright lights and sterile environment of the operating room can be an unsettling place and one that not many students can see their future careers in. But for Carolynn Armstrong, who grew up in and out of the hospital, the OR is a place she feels familiar with and aims to be part of the healthcare field one day.

From Armenia to Ohio
Figuring out how to be a nurse is just one of the many challenges that Carolynn has overcome. Born in Armenia, she spent the first seven years of her life in an orphanage where she was then adopted and brought to Ohio by her parents, Cheryl and Norman Armstrong.

Walk with dad: Norman and Carolynn Armstrong stand arm in arm while on a walk.

In Armenia, she did not have access to proper schooling or education so when she was adopted and brought to Ohio she started her education later compared to her peers, this also challenged her social, educational and emotional development.
“In Armenia, there was no childhood education for children in the orphanage,” Carolynn said. “There is no love there, just tough.”
Along with the challenge of entering school later in life, Carolynn was also born with a severe facial and foot deformity. For the first few years of her life, Carolynn’s feet were backward making walking and moving on her own difficult.
“I was born with my face partly open, from cheek to lip,” Carolynn said.
But after moving to the U.S. Carolynn underwent around 15 surgeries total to correct her feet and change her face. Carolynn also went through many different forms of therapies including speech therapies and copious amounts of physical therapy in and out of school.
When she was young, Carolynn hated going to the hospital for surgeries.
“I ran away from the OR one time,” Carolynn said. “But now I can comprehend that those surgeries were only helpful and life-saving.”

Discovering the nursing career tech

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Carolynn’s experience in hospitals is the reason she chose to go into the nursing career tech. During her junior year, Carolynn joined nursing, one of the more challenging programs at the school.
“I chose nursing so I can help others who are going through similar things as me,” Carolynn said.
Carolynn’s drive for nursing comes from her experience in hospitals and seeing the difference her nurses made in not just her life, but the lives of children like her. She believes becoming a nurse and joining the medical field will allow her to help people who have experienced hardships just like she has.

Trip with Mom: Cheryl and Carolynn Armstrong take a photo standing arm in arm.

Carolynn’s drive to help others and getting into the nursing program has surprised the people around her.
“My biggest challenge is when people do not always believe that I can succeed at some things,” Carolynn said.
There are difficult times for Carolynn regarding how people view her due to entering school later and looking different than her peers.
“I am a very bright girl,” Carolynn said. “I don’t like to be labeled as special needs or incompetent.”
Her setbacks in life do not define her, people have sometimes made assumptions about Carolynn due to educational, physical and mental setbacks she faced.
“You have to be the bigger person,” Carolynn said.

Surprise: Senior Carolynn Armstrong is surprised by guidance counselor Theresa Rhoads, her nursing class and other GlenOak staff in February. Armstrong was awarded the RA Horne award.

One of Carolynn’s biggest supporters at school is her nursing teacher Gabrielle Keyser.
“She [Carolynn] has grown immensely since we have met,” Keyser said.
Keyser and Carolynn met in April of 2022, and since becoming her teacher, Keyser has watched Carolynn grow in not just her knowledge of health care but in her knowledge about the world.
One of the other challenges that Carolynn has faced is in her self-confidence and being who she truly is. Because of her facial irregularities, Carolynn is often noticed by others and stared at.
Carolynn has used Keyser’s advice of “Be who Caroylnn truly is,” as a motto she attempts to live by.
Everyone faces challenges in life, Carolynn believes that no matter how a person looks or appears to be on the outside what matters is who they are on the inside.
“The advice I would give is that you may look different but in reality, others just look at you like a normal person,” Carolynn said. “No matter how different you are or how different your life is, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
Jordan Mason is the co-teacher of the nursing program, having met Carolynn during her junior year.
“She has set the bar very high her junior year and continues to grow and improve,” Mason said. “Even senior year she continues to improve and has reached the top bar now.”
During her junior year Carolynn won first place at regionals and state. Recently Carolynn competed in the HOSA, a state wide nursing competition, and won first place in the personal care category.

Surprise party celebration: The students of the Nursing Career tech take a photo during Carolynn’s surprise party. (Ashlynn Provance)

To reach the level that Carolynn has in her academics she has committed herself to her academics to ensure she reaches her goal of becoming a nurse.
“She is a model student, for showing if you have goals and work hard for it you can achieve anything,” school principal Tyler Adkins said.
Although Adkins has been at GlenOak for two years he has witnessed Carolynn’s different challenges. But no matter what she faces Adkins has witnessed her overcome them and continue to work hard in school and for her goals.

RA Horn Award
Carolynn, who is graduating in May, is the recent recipient of the RA Horn Award.  This award is established by the Ohio Department of Education and awarded to students on an IEP plan who have shown great improvement and resilience in school.
Across Ohio, there are 16 regions made up of three or more counties. Carolynn was the nominee for all of Stark, Wayne, and Holmes country with 45 schools making up the region.
“We have never had a regional winner, Carolynn is the first we have had in the last seven years,” counselor Theresa Rhoads said.

Big Surprise: Senior Carolynn Armstrong and school consular Theresa Rhoads stand in front of the nursing class. “We wanted it to be a surprise so we made sure to throw her a little party before she could find out,” Rhoads said. Carolynn covers her mouth in happiness and shock. (Ashlynn Provance)

Carolynn is recognized for her passion and drive for nursing as well as her hard work in academics. She has also received a letter congratulating her on her achievements, but the people around her including many teachers, her peers, and counselors wanted to surprise her with the news.
The day after finding out Carolynn won the award, Rhoads, Keyser and Mason decided that they needed to celebrate Carolynn’s accomplishment and threw a party with cake and decorations.
“I was shocked, my mouth was just open,” Carolynn said. “I felt so appreciated and I kept thinking about it, they’re just always there for me (the people in the nursing program and GlenOak staff).”
Although Carolynn was surprised by the nomination her peers and teachers were not.
“I was not surprised, I know what she’s capable of,” Keyser said. “Mrs. Mason and I thought about how big a deal this is so we decided to pull together a little party.”
Carolynn will once again stand in bright lights, but this time not in the OR but on a stage accepting her award.

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About the Contributors
Meredith Conrad
Meredith Conrad, Broadcast Manager
Meredith Conrad (they/them) is a senior and has been on new staff for three years. They're an aspiring cinematographer and in their second year of the video production career tech. In their free time they love to crochet, read, and workout.
Ashlynn Provance
Ashlynn Provance, Staff Writer
Ashlynn Provance (she,her) is a sophomore at GlenOak this year. This will be her first year on staff as a staff writer. Ashlynn is involved in tennis and spirit club. Outside of school Ashlynn enjoys playing guitar, writing, and painting.
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