The past has no hold on Tracy Hoover. If anything, it propels her to stand with others, providing care, grace, and support.  

The 2023 EICC graduate earned an associate degree in Licensed Practical Nursing and accepted a position as a stem cell and immunotherapy nurse at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She’ll be caring for people living with cancer and disease.  

“I’ve had a lot of personal struggles in my life. Now I get to care for people in the same way others cared for me,” Hoover said. “It’s cool because I was treated there as a patient at one point, and I was interviewed by the same nurse who took care of me. It is an amazing turn of events. I’ve come full circle,” she said.   

Hoover shared her journey in the speech she gave at EICC’s Commencement Ceremony at Scott Community College (SCC) 

Four years earlier, she was a proud non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, a full-time civilian employee, and a full-time student working her way through school. She was married and a victim of domestic violence who saw no way out of her situation. In crisis, she attempted suicide and survived.  

It took her six months to heal. And through it all, she was surrounded by support: nurses, social workers, doctors, EICC professors, TRIO advisors, counselors, resource officers; people Hoover said saw something bigger in her than she saw herself. “I was given the opportunity to recover. I was given the opportunity to succeed. Most of all, I was given hope,” she said.  

In turn, Hoover offered that to her peers. At SCC, she started a Gray Matters Collective chapter to give students a safe community where they could discuss and focus on their mental health and help others who are struggling. “Starting a club on campus was a big deal,” Hoover said, “and it is helping end the stigma.”  

Throughout her education, EICC faculty and staff were there for her. Nursing instructor Evangelina Aguilar has a reputation for being tough. “She’s not. She’s a big softie. She makes the nursing courses a lot easier to digest,” Hoover said. “And she is just human, just a really good person. She makes me want to be a better nurse and a better person,” she added. 

TRIO staffer Amy De La Bruere, “she really believes in the students and gets us connected to the resources we need. And Steve Cravens, the TRIO director, helps put students on the right path. There are just a lot of people at EICC who are great,” she said. 

EICC’s nursing program gave Hoover a solid foundation for her nursing career. “We got to explore so many different jobs and so many different fields in nursing,” she said. That list includes neonatal, medical-surgical, pulmonology, and more. “It was great to experience all those different fields and get hands-on experience. It was incredible.”  

Getting hired as a stem cell and immunotherapy nurse is a great fit. “I previously worked for the blood center Impact Life, and we worked with whole blood. Stem cell research is a very interesting field and a burgeoning science. It is fascinating and it's just one of my passions,” she said.  

“I’ve danced around this goal for a long time, and I am so glad I did it. I get to finally put my hands in there, on the field, and take care of people in a different way,” Hoover said.  

“Community colleges really have their place in the education system. They are an amazing steppingstone and tool for students to achieve their future goals,” she said. “I made a lot of really good friends at EICC, and it was exciting and a really good experience.”