Daphne Sonnenburg demonstrates an incredible amount of effort while reaching for her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner.
Sonnenburg grew up in Pasadena, Texas, before moving to Lake Charles, Louisiana with her dad for work reasons. She attended Sam Rayburn High School in 1995 for one year, before she had to drop out due to an unexpected pregnancy.
For a few years, Sonnenburg focused on her family life, while still making time to study for her G.E.D., which she earned at 17. She was expecting her second child when she found out her expected baby was diagnosed with Osteogenesis imperfecta, or, brittle bone disease, which made every one of his bones soft enough to break during delivery.
Sonnenburg had trouble keeping up with the medical jargon being thrown at her daily. Out of worry for her child, she started hitting the books harder than ever.
“I researched everything trying to figure out if there was something I could do,” recalls Sonnenburg.
Sonnenburg could be found in the library every day researching her son’s disease, familiarizing herself with the terminology, and trying to wrap her head around her parlous situation.
“When he was born,” recalls Sonnenburg, “they didn’t even turn the baby warmer on, because they thought he was going to die.”
Her son, Cory, was miraculously born without every bone breaking in his body like the doctors expected.
Sonnenburg found her passion waiting for her in the pages of the medical books she had devoted so much time to.
“It intrigued me,” Sonnenburg explained, “and ever since then it’s been something I’ve strived for.”
She decided that she wanted to become a nurse, and has lived her life reaching for her goal at every opportunity.
Sonnenburg graduated from the Texas School of Business in Houston with her Certified Medical Assistant in 2001. She went on to receive her Licensed Vocational Nursing Degree from San Jacinto College in 2005. She attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, before transferring to SPC so she could move with her husband back to Levelland.
“My mother-in-law and my father-in-law graduated from SPC,” Sonnenburg said. “They recommended the college, and both went to get their master’s later on.”
Sonnenburg said she enjoys the more hands-on approach of many of her professors since transferring.
“Because I am an older student, I like the fact that the class sizes are smaller,” said Sonnenburg. “I like that the instructors seem to understand non-traditional students.”
Sonnenburg spends much of her time studying when she is not at work or taking care of her kids. In her free time, she typically has her head in a novel, or is outside playing or watching softball.
Sonnenburg has been juggling work, school, and home responsibilities for years. She says going back to school for her was “Intimidating at first, because you’re nervous.”
“You are fixing to walk into a classroom full of freshmen, that just graduated high school, and you’ve got kids their age,” she added. “But the main thing to realize is that most of the younger students in the class think that you are the smartest when you are the oldest in the class.”
Sonnenburg says she plans on working as a Nurse Practitioner, with her own patient load. She emphasizes wanting to help people with mental health issues.
“A major portion of my nursing background is in psychiatric and drug rehab,” says Sonnenburg.
Sonnenburg says her friend, Debbie Knock, a registered nurse and the Department Supervisor at Covenant Hospital in Levelland, has encouraged her to never give up.
“Debbie Knock is the biggest inspiration, and encouraged me to keep going to school.” says Sonnenburg. “She always tells me, ‘You can do anything for 13-16 weeks.’ So, if you tell yourself that for the entire semester, you can do ANYTHING.’ That’s how she made it through nursing school. She’s my hero.”