Nearly 15 years had passed since I last saw Megan Randle Robinson. But that gap closed when she reached out on a class reunion website.
“Well hello stranger,” she wrote. “It’s been some time since I have seen or spoken to you.”
So we got together recently at a Kansas City, Kan., restaurant to catch up. By all measures, Robinson has had a successful life since I got to know her when she was a freshman at Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan. I wrote more than 100 columns on studying with her Class of 1999 from the students’ freshman year until graduation to learn what it was like to be a teen and teacher.
Robinson is 33 years old now, married to Kerment Robinson and she’s a mom to 11-year-old, fifth-grader Imani, which means faith. She also has an incredible work ethic. Robinson was always a cheerful, good student.
I wrote about her making the honor roll at Washington High and going to the prom. “I have grown,” she said. Since 2007 she has been a Providence Medical Center intensive care unit weekend registered nurse.
Since 2012, she has taught nursing classes at Brown Mackie College. But her road to success hasn’t been greased or easy.
She and her twin sister, Malissa Randle, were raised by their single mom, Jill Jones, who drove a school bus. “Growing up was not financially stable,” Robinson said.
“I just remember being in those food pantry lines, soup kitchens and being adopted for Christmas,” she said. “When you needed help it was there.”
Robinson shared memories of living in Section 8 housing and depending on food stamps and other government aid. Kansas and federal lawmakers, she said, should show compassion instead of severely cutting and restricting welfare especially when children are involved.
“No one should look down on a person receiving financial assistance,” she said. “We all need help at some point in time.
“Yes, they need to tighten the gap on who gets aid, but there are people out there who need help. It should motivate people to do something with their lives.”
Robinson’s career in nursing started in high school. She worked as a dietitian’s aide at the Medical Lodge and later she became a certified nurse’s assistant.
After high school, she went to Kansas City Kansas Community College to pursue her dream of being a nurse.
“For the most part, I wanted to give back,” Robinson said. “I love dressing in a uniform. It signifies respect in my head.”
She worked as a nurse’s aide at the University of Kansas Medical Center while pursuing her nursing degree. But she became pregnant with her daughter and had to juggle work, being a mom and going to school with limited funds.
“It was really hard,” said Robinson, who graduated in 2006 from the community college. Afterward she got her bachelor’s of science of nursing in 2009 and master’s degree of nursing and health administration in 2012 by taking online classes at the University of Phoenix.
“I love the online environment,” she said. “I could take care of my daughter and do the motherly thing and still go to work.”
Her experiences have helped make her a better, more compassionate college instructor and mentor to her students. Robinson also continues to live in Kansas City, Kan. “I love it here,” she said.
“There are some smart people in Wyandotte County,” Robinson added. “I can give back to my community that gave to me.”
That includes speaking at Washington High about careers in nursing. She wishes professionals had spoken to her class to better prepare students for the real world.
Now she is able to make that wish come true for others.