HOWELL, Mich. — Lisa Mosciski began running an obstacle course of life challenges three years ago in her pursuit of becoming a registered nurse 20 years after entering the medical field.
While working as a licensed practical nurse in 2009, an ailing Livingston County child she attended to passed away while she was not on duty. Licensed practical nurses care for patients under the direction of physicians and registered nurses.
"That was too much on me. That took a lot," Mosciski recalled. "I love pediatrics, but when you lose a pediatric patient, it's hard on the heart, if you will."
The Howell resident persevered, however, and kept working. But this time, it was on the other end of the life spectrum: aiding senior citizens at a Northfield Township nursing home.
Shortly after taking that job, her then 16-year-old daughter, Chaztin, was involved in a rollover car accident in the Brighton area that left Chaztin with a broken back as well as frontal and temporal lobe brain damage.
This time, Mosciski took time off work, but just about two weeks. A single mother of two, Mosciski, 38, had to continue working to provide for herself, Chaztin, and Mosciski's son, Joey, now 20.
"My daughter had to come first. I didn't even know if she was going to walk at that time," she recalled.
"I work. I'm a worker," however, Mosciski added.
Her daughter had a 3.7 grade-point average prior to her crash, and due to her injuries, it dipped to 1.7 GPA after returning for her junior year.
Like her mother, she faced her challenges, however, and graduated from Howell High School in 2010 with a 3.9 GPA.
"I was never more proud the day that she went to her prom and the day that she graduated and her homecoming and all of those things. I was never more proud, because the alternative was I could have lost her," Mosciski recalled.
With Chaztin back on her feet, Mosciski decided she would do whatever was necessary to get her registered nurse certification.
Her plan wouldn't work without some financial help.
Livingston County Michigan Works! granted Mosciski tuition assistance that she used to pay for her clinical rotation, including money for books, tuition and laboratory fees at Lansing Community College. The funding came from the federal Workforce Investment Act.
Around the same time in 2009, her resolve was tested yet again.
A domestic problem erupted at home that led to her and Chaztin taking temporary shelter at LACASA, a county organization that provides services to survivors of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.
Undeterred, she finished her program at LCC in May 2010.
At long last — and with the assistance of Michigan's work force training and re-entry program — Mosciski was ready to enter the field as a certified registered nurse.
"I'm a very strong individual. When strong is all you have, you do what you have to do to make it," Mosciski said.
In late January, she was awarded a Michigan Works! alumni award for her successful journey toward nursing certification.
Mosciski found work where many may not seek it: Michigan's county prison system.
Today, Mosciski provides nursing services for inmates at the jails in Livingston, Washtenaw and Shiawassee counties. She developed an interest in caring for inmates during a mental health rotation at the state prison in Ionia during her studies.
She has set schedules at the Livingston and Shiawassee jails, and works on an as-needed basis at the Washtenaw jail.
Since taking the job, Mosciski has attended to the medical needs of offenders ranging from speeding-ticket scofflaws to men who haven't paid child support, and even to murderers.
"Just because they break the law and have a criminal background doesn't mean they're not human and don't deserve medical care," she said.
Chaztin, now 19, followed in her mother's footsteps and is considering a career as a registered nurse. She said she would love to work alongside her mother one day as a nurse in the county jails.
Chaztin said her mother often took on the roles of both parents while still married because her father was often on the road. That created a sense of independence needed to pursue a new degree as a 30-something-year-old woman, she added.
"She's really come through so many obstacles. I'm her No. 1 fan," Chaztin said.
"She's something. She gets what she wants, and she works hard for it," she added.
Mosciski's friend would agree.
"Persistent is the word," longtime friend Kim Wright said of Mosciski.
Wright said Mosciski does what she has to do to both achieve her goals and provide for her family.
"Her confidence and her wanting to do whatever she can to make life better for her and her kids has kind of come to me, too. She just gives off that confidence," Wright said.
Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com