Ahead of the Game: Risner Youngest Student Ever to Begin Nursing School at ACTC

Ahead of the Game: Risner Youngest Student Ever to Begin Nursing School at ACTC

Grace Phillips 

The Ashland Beacon


   The evening news if full of stories about young people that have made bad decisions or taken a wrong path.  This story is not one of those! It is a story a young lady with a goal and a vision for her future and it is a very bright future, indeed.  Kemi Risner is a 2022 graduate of Boyd County High School and has begun her journey to become a nurse.  You might think…that’s not much of a story, lots of young folks graduate high school and decide to attend nursing school.  Keep reading, I promise this one is special but first there you need a little background information. 

   Kemi was always a great student and was very goal oriented. Her sophomore year of high school began in 2020…that was the year that Covid changed so much of our normal way of life and this included the way that students attended school and were taught.  As the year ended, Kemi began to realize she had most of the credits needed to graduate a year early.  She had proven she could excel with her grades without being in a classroom.  That was the turning point in her future “I never really felt like I fit in at high school.  I was just ready to start the next chapter of my life.  I had always wanted to take care of people and make them feel wanted and cared for…nursing was the only choice for me.”   Once she decided this was the path she wanted to follow, it was time for the campaign to convince her parents she could handle an early graduation and the pursuit of her dream to become a nurse.   

   Sherry Risner, Kemi’s mom said, “it was a very hard decision for us as parents to allow her to skip her senior year.  She has always been mature for her age and after many prayers, her dad and I felt like this was a great opportunity for her and if she could meet the requirements, it must be part of God’s plan for her life.”

   Once graduation was achieved, it was a whirlwind to complete all the forms for college entrance.  In the summer of 2022, just a few short weeks after graduation, Risner entered Ashland Community and Technical College at a nursing student.  This is where “her” story becomes unique. 

   According to Kemi, orientation day took a few crazy turns.  “The instructor pulled me aside before the orientation started and wanted to know if I had graduated from high school.  Of course I had” she thought to herself.  Apparently there was a mix up with some of her records and they were trying to sort it out.  Kemi went on with the story, “when the orientation started the dean called me out and told me that everything was sorted out and that I had indeed graduated from high school.”

   However, that wasn’t the only surprise of the day.  There were a lot of papers to fill out and for anyone under 18 they required a parent’s signature.  After orientation Kemi told the instructor she would need to take the papers home to get her parent’s signature.  The instructor appeared shocked.  She asked how old Kemi was….was she 17?  Kemi replied, “no, I’m only 16.”  That’s right….she was only 16 years old at the time.  The instructor was definitely shocked at this revelation and told her she is the youngest person to ever be accepted into the nursing program!   

   When asked how this made her feel, Kemi said “ I really didn’t know how to feel. I was a little worried that I would be looked down on for being such a young person in the program while everyone else was quite a bit older than me, but I have been treated just like everyone else in the program, and have already made some great friends.”  

   She has completed the classes for and passed her CNA state licensing and began classes in the Associates Degree Nursing Program this semester.  

   Those who have known her for years are not surprised that she would want to help others and that she would excel at anything she set her mind to do.  Kemi has been very active in church activities and was a part of the youth competition team at Mavity Free Will Baptist. In 2018, she was a part of the puppet team that won a national title at the Free Will Baptist Youth Ministry Expo, and in 2019 she won two national titles…one for sign language and in group drama.  

   Ellen Keaton, the competition coach from the church was not at all surprised at Kemi’s success in school.  “She always worked hard at whatever we were doing.   Kemi was a natural leader and inspired the others to work hard to achieve their goal.”  She has continued her giving this year by teaching our youngest class in VBS.  Keaton went on to say, “I am so proud of her and what she is going to accomplish in the future.” 

   Despite her many successes at this point in her life, Kemi remains a quiet shy young lady and really wants no attention for what she has accomplished.   So what exactly does that future look like for Ms. Risner?  She plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and hopes to become a mother/baby nurse. When asked if she had any advice for other young people she replied, “ I would tell them to be true to themselves and stay focused on their dreams…who knows what can happen.”

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