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Transplant recipient scholarship winner back on track – Chicago Tribune

Rose Traczyk-Mastey has wanted to be a nurse since she was 5 and dressing up as Florence Nightingale for Halloween.

“No one knew who I was supposed to be,” she laughed.

More than four decades, a double organ transplant and one foiled attempt at obtaining a nursing degree later, the Lakes of Four Seasons woman is on her way to reaching that goal, and excelling in her endeavor.

One and a half years into the nursing program at Ivy Tech College, Traczyk-Mastey, who is now in her 50s, has a 3.84 grade point average, earning her one of 28 scholarships to be awarded this year at the Chancellor’s Scholarship Dinner, to take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Avalon Manor in Hobart.

Louise Thompson, Resource Development coordinator for Ivy Tech, said students must have a 3.75 GPA or greater, have completed 30 credit hours or more and write an essay to qualify for the scholarships, valued at $1,500 each.

“The nursing program is a really rigorous program. To achieve a 3.84 GPA is amazing,” Thompson said of Traczyk-Mastey’s accomplishment.

The road from dreaming of being Florence Nightingale to excelling in a nursing program has been long and filled with pitfalls for Traczyk-Mastey, who was diagnosed with brittle juvenile diabetes at age 15.

The disease has taken a physical and financial toll on her through the years, culminating in a double organ transplant in a Madison, Wis., hospital in 2007.

“I was at the end stages of renal disease,” she said.

“I was truly blessed,” she said of being able to receive the transplant, which gave her a new kidney and pancreas and gave her health back.

She said she applied at Ivy Tech’s nursing school with her husband Joe’s encouragement.

It’s her second attempt at nursing school. The first time she was accepted right after high school, but was forced to drop out after becoming ill and spending three weeks in the hospital.

Traczyk-Mastey said her goal is to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing after she graduates from Ivy Tech with a two-year degree in May 2017 and her hope is that one day there will be a transplant center in Northwest Indiana where she can work. If not, she said she’d like to work with veterans.

“I want to give back for the care that I received. I want to be someone that matters,” she said. “I don’t want to be a good nurse. I want to be a great nurse. I want to pay it forward.”

Karen Caffarini is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

If you go

What: Ivy Tech Chancellor’s Dinner

When: 6 p.m. Oct. 14

Where: Avalon Manor, 3550 E. U.S. 30, Hobart

Cost: Tickets are $75 per person

How: Purchase tickets online at

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