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Nurse Went Back to School at 45

How Going Back to School at 45 Helped This Nurse Find Her Power

Everyone's achievements are worth celebrating. We've partnered with Revlon to introduce its #ICanSoIDid sweepstakes winner's story.

"I can, so I did." This is the fearless phrase helming the campaign for Revlon's Candid line, a collection of natural-finish complexion products made to enhance your natural beauty. It's also a phrase that DeBorah Boyd, winner of the brand's recent sweepstakes, has embodied her entire life.

In early 2019, Revlon announced the #ICanSoIDid sweepstakes to its social followers, inviting participants to share stories and photos of their achievements — big, small, and everything in between — on Instagram. While a few handfuls of product-filled prizes were awarded at random, only one lucky winner claimed the grand prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City, a visit to the Revlon corporate headquarters, their very own professional photo shoot, and, of course, an abundance of beauty products.

I was on set at the NYC photo shoot and had the chance to sit down with DeBorah to learn more about her life and gush over her exciting win. Like me, you could say that luck and fate were on DeBorah's side (she's won other sweepstakes before, including a trip to France!), but she quickly — and politely — corrected me: "No, I work at it." And as we continued talking, it became clear that, although the winner was unpredictable, this prize was most definitely earned.

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A Midwest native, DeBorah grew up in Gary, IN, before relocating to Atlanta for better jobs and opportunities on her 25th birthday. "The job I got into was really [in] a man's world; it was selling copy paper and toner on the phone. There were just two of us women and mostly guys," she said. After building a career in that industry for several years, she got tired of the "call-center life" and decided to go to nursing school — at the age of 45.

"I did a lot of things over the years where I was like, 'I know I can do this,' so I did it — no matter the setbacks about the color of my skin, the sexism in the job force working with a bunch of guys. I just did it."

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"That was one of the hardest things to do out of my whole career life — to just go back to school," she said. "I was the oldest in the class." While her 21- and 22-year-old peers breezed through anatomy and physiology classes, she struggled — but her mom's words kept her pushing forward. "It doesn't matter," she would say. "You're still gonna be a great nurse regardless."

And she was right. DeBorah walked across the graduation stage in her late 40s, backed by a strong support system (including her husband, Eugene, a two-time cancer survivor, and her stepmom, Linda), a healthy dose of inspiring quotes (one on her Instagram reads "Be the girl who just went for it."), and a natural drive to succeed. Problem solving, patience, and creativity are three qualities she credits for helping her achieve her goals. "They keep you on your feet, thinking," she said.

"Just be happy. Have fun with life. Travel at an early age."

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When asked about her advice for others writing their own #ICanSoIDid stories, DeBorah sprinkles some words of wisdom that we all need to hear: be who you are, see the world, and enjoy the ride.

"Just be yourself. Just be happy. Have fun with life. Travel at an early age. And if you go by yourself, you'll find yourself, so when you get back home, it'll just give you that inner strength to know how to handle things out there in the world," she said. "Find yourself — your inner self, your inner strength. And that is an 'I can, so I did' moment.”

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