By AARON FREY
For The Weekly Post
GALESBURG – Caitlin Evans came home one day and had a question for her parents. Who is Doogie Howser?
As Evans gets set to graduate today, May 19, from Carl Sandburg College’s associate degree nursing program at only 17 years old, it’s understandable that she’s drawn comparisons to the teenage doctor played by Neil Patrick Harris on the 1990s sitcom.
“Someone called me that, and I had no idea (what it meant),” Evans said. Thirty-year-old pop culture references are among the few things Evans isn’t well schooled in.
When she was 13, Evans took a placement test at Sandburg so she could enroll in dual-credit courses while at Williamsfield High School. By taking dual-credit classes during the school year and summer, Evans graduated from Williamsfield with her high school diploma in the spring of 2020 and from Sandburg with her Associate in General Studies that summer at 15. She applied for Sandburg’s College of Nursing, got accepted and began nursing school in the fall of 2020.
“It was kind of a culture shock,” Evans said. “I went from being 13 and in seventh grade, then going to high school and then doing college and graduating all in the span of two years. Then when I started the nursing program it was like, this is my focus right now.”
Evans said she always knew she wanted to work in health care. Her original plan was to become a pharmacist, but that required being at least 18 years old, which didn’t match up with her fast-track. She turned her attention to nursing like her mom Sarah, a 2012 graduate of Sandburg’s nursing program. Her dad Brandon, a lawyer, checked to make sure she’d be eligible to take the NCLEX. Other than Evans being unable to use a Hoyer lift (operators need to be at least 18), they didn’t find any age issues.
Evans has been on the dean’s list each semester and will graduate with highest honors, reserved for students with a 3.9-4.0 GPA. Next on her to-do list are bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. She wants to go into research care and perhaps get her doctor of nursing practice.
“I’ve gotten straight A’s throughout all of nursing school just because I like to – not be a perfectionist – but I like to set high goals for myself,” Evans said.
“Everyone always says nursing school is so hard, and it is hard. But I got straight A’s throughout it and completed all my clinicals and did everything. Now it’s taking time to think about, ‘Oh wow, I already did it.’”
By AARON FREY