Mother, Wife, and Student: Carley Whaley Strives to Become a Nurse

Carley Whaley, CSCC Nursing student

Mother, Wife, and Student: Carley Whaley Strives to Become a Nurse

Napierra Alexander
Monday, December 20, 2021 12:00 AM
Community, All, Students, Press Releases

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Cleveland State Community College gives the opportunity for non-traditional students to have another chance at following their career passions. Carley Whaley saw her opportunity and took it. Now, she is driven to fulfill her calling as a nurse. During the pandemic, she saw the need for nurses in healthcare. She decided to be a part of the frontline workers, working to take care of those who can't always take care of themselves.  

“I’ve always wanted to get my college degree,” stated Whaley. “It was just impossible when my children were younger.  Now my two oldest children are grown, and have moved out.  So there’s only my step daughter, and youngest son at home now.  I still work full time, but since the pandemic I’ve noticed a need for nurses, and I feel like this is my calling.  I love taking care of other people.  It gives me so much joy.”

Whaley is a 44-year old mother of four who is married to her husband, Jimmy. After high school, she made the decision to start her career, and her first step was enrolling at Cleveland State. At the age of 20, she found herself in the first semester of college, pregnant, working a full-time job and dealing with it all on her own. She knew she needed to sacrifice something to make her life a bit more manageable. That’s when Whaley decided to withdraw from college to focus on raising her child. 

As her children grew up, Whaley always knew she wanted to finish what she started. Now with two children out of the house and support from her husband and family, she decided to go after her passion of becoming a registered nurse. Currently, Whaley is working toward receiving her Associate of Science to be an RN and plans to graduate from CSCC in the fall of 2022. She hopes to continue her education after CSCC by enrolling into a four-year nursing school after she graduates. 

Being a non-traditional student comes with its struggles, and Whaley faces a few of her own. While enrolled at CSCC, she also works at Brown Stone Works in Cleveland as the Assistant Parts and Service Manager. She explains how she finds her balance in working, taking care of her home and kids, and carving time out for her school work can be a struggle, but she says applying tips she learned from her First Year Seminar class truly helped her juggle it all. Whaley believes that along with her amazing support system, Cleveland State not only helps her navigate her coursework, but actually supports her in balancing work, family, and school. 

“Even at this age, CSCC has already shaped my life in so many ways,” explained Whaley.  “I’ve worked the majority of my life, and have already raised a family.  But this school is helping me to find my purpose, and make some great connections that can lead to some life long friendships.”

When Whaley can take a break from school and work, she loves to make crafts and write. She is a self-published author, writing two poetry books and hopes to write more in the future. Most of all, Whaley loves gathering around with her family and good food because according to her, family is what matters most. 

For more information on Cleveland State Community College, visit the website at or email If you are interested in applying, visit Students are currently enrolled online and on-campus through the CSCC main campus in Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as CSCC’s Athens Center in Athens, Tennessee and Monroe County Center in Vonore, Tennessee.

CSCC earned the Tennessee Board of Regent’s 2019 College of The Year. CSCC directly serves Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk Counties in Tennessee. The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving more than 140,000 students.


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