The Value of Compassion | Broward College Office of Advancement and Broward College Foundation

The Value of Compassion

Karen Schutt


 Karen and her sons, Kevin and Charles, circa 1992.

Karen and her sons, Kevin and Charles, circa 1992.

Karen was a single mom with two toddlers when she left her native Brazil to restart her life in the United States. Her brother and sister-in-law graciously took in her young family, and Karen had high hopes for the future. Her aspirations were temporarily dashed, however, when she discovered her English wasn’t as good as she thought and her biomedical sciences bachelor’s degree didn’t carry over to the United States.

But this didn’t stop Karen. With determination and hard work, she began to build her future.

To make ends meet, Karen babysat in the daytime and cleaned houses nights and weekends. She improved her English by forcing herself to overcome her natural shyness in speaking and watching talk shows. Her tenacity paid off when, within a year, she and her children moved from her brother’s home into their own apartment.

She fell in love and got married. Her family encouraged her to go back to school, particularly one family member who was a nurse who had attended Broward College. Motivated, Karen registered for classes, spent two years fulfilling her prerequisite requirements and two years completing her nursing classes. She landed a hospital nursing position before she graduated, received her degree in 1997 as a Registered Nurse and passed her state boards the first time. Her career was about to take flight.


Karen Schutt during the pinning ceremony at Omni Auditorium on Broward College’s North Campus.

After working in a hospital setting and as a Hospice nurse, Karen decided to get certified in oncology. Armed with experience, her R.N. and O.C.N., she applied to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa in 2006 and secured the job she has to this day.

She is on the frontlines with patients suffering from cancer. She shares their up and downs and consciously puts a smile on her face and acts with compassion, a lesson learned from her mentors at Broward College.

“You could see that the teachers were nurses first and instructors second,” Karen said. “They treated us as colleagues, and in addition to teaching us the skills to be an excellent nurse, they communicated the importance of being compassionate. This was the most important thing I learned at Broward College and it set the tone for my entire career.”


Sharon Leach’s teenage aspirations of earning higher education degrees with the goal of helping children were crushed by family members who told her she just didn’t have the smarts to get it done. It took her 30 years, but she proved them wrong.