A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity to Realize a Dream | Broward College Office of Advancement and Broward College Foundation

A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity to Realize a Dream

Laura Brunner


Laura Brunner had traditional hopes for her life – hopes for a successful career, a strong marriage and healthy children. Her hopes were becoming a reality when Laura, fresh out of college with a four-year business degree at age 22, landed a job in her field, married her dream man and started a family four years later.

The life of her dreams took a turn when Laura’s second child, Grant, was born. Grant was born with cerebral palsy. He is orthopedically impaired and intellectually disabled. While her son’s health issues may have exhausted a less strong individual, Laura kicked into high gear, determined to get the best care and education possible for her son. Then shortly after her fourth child Blake was born, and he was later diagnosed with high-functioning autism, Laura found herself parenting four children as a single mom.

“To my surprise, there was a different plan in store for me that would transform me into the person I have become: compassionate, creative, strong, confident and independent,” Laura said.

And in a position to help others, because of Broward College.

“While caring for my very special family, I knew I had grown into a woman who had faced adversity,” Laura said. “But instead of looking for someone to blame, I turned each situation into a learning experience and decided to embrace the challenges and find a positive path to propel me forward.”

Laura realized that through her life experiences, she came to possess skills and knowledge that would be an asset to people in similar situations.

“Having spent countless hours in doctors’ offices, hospitals and outpatient therapy centers, the field of healthcare became comfortably familiar to me,” she said. “As my children grew, I began to have a strong desire to seek reeducation and become a nurse. Providing a voice, a healing touch and physically caring for others with medical needs became a true personal passion.”

Grant, Hillary, Hope, Laura and Blake

Broward College was the gateway to fulfilling this passion. In 2011, she went to the admissions office to ask what it would take to become a registered nurse. She discovered she had to take numerous prerequisites before she even applied to the college’s nursing program.

Undaunted, she focused on completing one prerequisite class at a time, while fulfilling her many parental roles, which she describes as “nurturer, chauffeur, short order cook, teacher, advocate, nurse, accountant, yard maintenance staff, housekeeper, and handywoman.”

Now, at 51, she is at the halfway point toward earning an associate degree in nursing. She hopes to graduate in May of next year, and then plans to go for both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

Hope, Blake, Laura, Hillary and Grant

An American Dream Scholarship recipient, Laura is grateful for the affordability, quality education and class flexibility that enabled her to balance her quest for a new, meaningful career with caring for her family.

“Broward College provided me with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realize a dream and follow my passion to become a nurse,” she said. “As a result, I am more confident, accomplished and independent, and couldn’t be more thankful.”


Cheryl-Dene Spring’s childhood was characterized by difficulty and trauma. In her native South Africa, Cheryl-Dene lived in an abusive household, a scary place where her stepfather abused her mother. The fear and anger erupted the day her stepfather set fire to their house. Her mother, fearing for her life, shot him. Cheryl-Dene was 9 years old when she and her siblings were removed from their home and sent to live in an orphanage. There, Cheryl-Dene remained for six years.