GCU Nursing Graduate Follows Her Heart and Brings Others Along
By Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau
When Melanie Glaze was cleaning offices at the Intel plant in Chandler — taking out the trash, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming and dusting – she had a vision of where she wanted her career to go.
But she never expected some of the turns her professional path would take, or the number of people she would help along the way.
It’s a journey that speaks to the power of education and the power of hard work. But, most of all, it speaks to the power of family.
Climbing the corporate ladder
Glaze’s days of cleaning office buildings are well behind her. She did that job while working her way through college with the help of her mother, who was a janitorial contractor at places such as Intel, Revlon and Motorola.
Glaze traded office cleaning for a career in nursing that eventually led to her getting a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University and an administrative position with Banner Health.
Glaze said she decided on a career in nursing after taking an organic chemistry class as a freshman at Northern Arizona University. She had hopes of becoming a forensic pathologist, but did poorly in the class and after a year at NAU she returned home to Mesa.
“My mom asked why I wanted to be a forensic pathologist, and it was because I like helping people,” Glaze said. “She had always wanted to be a nurse, so she suggested that. I did and am so glad I did because that’s part of what I was going to do, which was really make a difference in people’s lives.”
Glaze got an associate’s degree from Mesa Community College, then completed her nursing degree and became an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa in 2000.
Over the next 12 years, she continued to build on her education, completing her bachelor’s degree in nursing and getting a master’s from GCU in 2009. That led to more advancements within Banner Health, which promoted her to senior manager for patient-care services of Banner Lassen Medical Center in Susanville, Calif., in 2011.
Banner Lassen, Glaze said, was one of the lowest-scoring Banner facilities in its annual employee surveys when she arrived. A year later, she said it had Banner’s highest scores in leadership effectiveness and employee engagement.
“I was flattered when they called,” Glaze said. “I had just gotten my master’s, and initially I wasn’t sure I could do it. …. The leadership team there, we did some great things in the last year.”
A helping hand
While her own career was advancing, Glaze also was impacting others.
Her mentor at Banner Baywood, Director of Nursing Char Leoni, had stopped her education after getting an associate’s degree. “But Banner was really pushing all directors to have at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s,” Glaze said. “So I ended up mentoring her and helping her get her degree.”
Her best friend at Banner, Lauri Speirs, also got an educational push from Glaze.
“She has kind of dragged me along a couple times,” said Speirs, who is a neuroscience clinical nurse specialist and the stroke care coordinator for Banner Baywood. “Melanie decided she needed to get her master’s … and she talked me into considering it. I was kind of told when I was being groomed for the stroke coordinator role that I would need my master’s for that.
“She convinced me I could go ahead and do this. It’s one of the reasons I took this role.”
Glaze even persuaded her mother, Pamela Cummins, to give up her career cleaning offices and pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
“She was in her late 40s and all the kids were out of the house, so I told her, ‘Now is your time,’” Glaze said. “She said, ‘I’m too old, I can’t learn and remember all that stuff.’ But we found an LPN program at Gateway Community College and she was able to become an LPN and live her dream of being a nurse instead of living vicariously through me.”
Cummins said she was planning on getting a degree in executive housekeeping – “There really was a degree for that at Rio Solado College,” Cummins said – when her daughter convinced her to switch careers.
“Melanie is a great tutor and a great teacher,” Cummins said. “We used to have study lessons at my house for a bunch of students.”
The best part, Glaze said, was when her mother became valedictorian of her graduating class and gave a speech during commencement.
“It’s usually the mom who is in the stands listening to her daughter,” Glaze said. “But I got to do that and listen to my mom tell stories of how proud she was to be a nurse.”
Cummins worked as a nurse for eight years before suffering both a heart attack and a stroke within a month during 2009.
“I’m hoping to be better enough that I can get back to work sometime soon,” Cummins said. “I miss it.”
Glaze’s career has taken one more turn.
The job as a senior manager at Banner Lassen was taking its toll, and Glaze didn’t want the job-related stress to manifest itself into the kind of conditions her mom endured.
“I was working 70-100 hours a week and not seeing my family at all, and that was just stupid,” said Glaze, who has a 5-year-old daughter, Paige, and a 2-year-old son, Zane.
|“I was working 70-100 hours a week and not seeing my family at all, and that was just stupid. … I needed to take a step back and take some time for myself and my family.”|
So she recently stepped away from her administrative position and took a job as a travel nurse with Onward Healthcare, a staffing agency that places nurses in need areas. She starts a new job on Monday at Rose Medical Center in Denver.
“I had moved through the ranks of Banner through many positions, but the last one was pretty stressful,” Glaze said. “I needed to take a step back and take some time for myself and my family.
“Being a travel nurse, you work three 12-hour shifts a week and can do overtime if you want. Management is a 24/7 gig. … To work three 12s is going to be awesome. I won’t know what to do in my spare time; I’ve always had two jobs or worked and gone to school at the same time.”
Cummins supports her daughter’s decision.
“Melanie is a born teacher. She makes things understandable that seem difficult,” Cummins said about Glaze’s skills as an administrator. “On the other hand, she’s got a big heart. When you have heart, you like to have that hands-on, give-your-patients-a-hug kind of thing.
“She is very talented and knowledgeable and skilled in management, but she’s also a heck of a nurse.”
Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or [email protected].