Thursday night’s Luzerne County Community College commencement was a family affair for Linda Solt, 44, and her 20-year-old daughter Kierra Nee. They graduated from the school’s registered nursing program, but the road to their degrees was not an easy one.
While going to school, Solt, of Bear Creek Township, became pregnant with her fifth child. She was delivering her baby on Aug. 31, 2006 at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, when her father, Theodore Fichtner, was undergoing his annual CAT scan. Fichtner had lung cancer years ago and went for a CAT scan every year.
Solt was unable to accompany her father because she was in labor on the third floor. That was the day Fichtner learned the lung cancer had returned. It was a bittersweet day since her daughter, Kennady Solt, was born on that day.
Solt’s father died in December 2007. Solt’s mother, Mary Fichtner, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and recently was admitted to a nursing home.
In the middle of it all, Nee had gallbladder surgery. Kierra is Solt’s oldest child from her first marriage. Her baby, 21-month-old Kennady, is the daughter of Linda and Ron Solt, a retired NFL player. Her other children are Lauren Nee, 17; Jarrod Nee, 13; and Ryan Solt, 9.
Linda said she has been able to get through it all with the aid of family. “The secret is my sisters have been phenomenal with helping me.”
Solt is used to studying at all hours -- if Kennady wakes up at 3 a.m., she picks up a book.
On a typical weekday, Nee drops off Lauren at school and Solt takes Kennady to her sister’s home. The two juggle different class schedules and Solt works as a licensed practical nurse at Summit Health Care Center.
Nee knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was in the seventh grade. She got a peek at the profession by visiting her mother at work at Summit where Kierra would take patients to the dining room and hand out drinks.
Through the Young Scholars Program, Nee began taking college classes the summer before her junior year of high school. Upon graduating from Coughlin High School in 2006, Nee already had completed 28 college credits.
She plans to enter the Misericordia University Expressway Program to work toward a bachelor’s degree and eventually wants to be a nurse anesthetist. In the meantime, Nee will likely work part time as a nurse.
Mother and daughter participated in the college nursing program’s pinning ceremony last week.
Before Thursday’s ceremony, Nee joked that she will become a nurse about 10 minutes before her mother does – since her last name begins with an “N” and her mother’s an “S.”
“The secret is my sisters have been phenomenal with helping me.”