Cheryl Brubaker ‘04

Cheryl Brubaker

Cheryl Brubaker

Cheryl Brubaker had aspirations of being a nurse practitioner. The program offered by her local university required that she leave her full-time job and solely attend classes.

This was not an option for the single mom of four who was a full-time nurse and the family’s breadwinner.

Ten years later, she received a postcard from the University of St. Francis, which had the answer to her dreams.

“I could attend classes part-time while pursuing the nurse practitioner degree and still work,” said Brubaker.

While Brubaker admits that attending classes part-time, working full-time, and balancing the responsibilities of single motherhood wasn’t easy, what happened in her life next made things even more challenging.

“Sometimes you come across life circumstances that make things difficult, and for me that was breast cancer,” said Brubaker. “Looking back, having school to focus on was the best thing for me. I was able to take my classes as I was recovering from surgeries and chemotherapy.”

Brubaker successfully beat cancer and earned her degree.

While she enjoyed her nurse practitioner career, USF asked her to do a guest lecture on pediatrics. That eventually led to her teaching for the university part-time before signing on full-time.

Brubaker has been a full-time professor at USF for four-years. She is also a student again. She is pursuing her doctorate degree, and plans to graduate in spring 2015.

“I have empathy towards our students, especially as a current student myself,” said Brubaker. “However, I maintain an expectation of rigor, and I expect graduate-level performance from our students while being sensitive to their needs.”

She wants students to be proud of what they accomplish, and knows what it’s like to be in their shoes. Brubaker offers her students a piece of advice:

“You can’t be totally serious all the time, and it’s important to kick back and have fun too,” she said.

While she is not teaching or learning, she is busy being a grandma to five and visiting Renaissance fairs.