News & Features


St. Louis American / CHOICES section

January 2009

Submitted by Anne Shaw Heinrich for Fontbonne University OPTIONS

Felicia Woodson is enjoying a whole new direction in her nursing career, working as part of a palliative care team at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center.

“This is a phenomenal job,” says Woodson. “We help patients and their families during some very difficult times. One of our patients was a distinguished World War II Tuskegee airman who needed help managing his symptoms before he was to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor. We also had the opportunity to assist a humble, kind homeless man with cancer, so he could manage his symptoms and have a permanent place to stay.”

Woodson feels passionate about end-of-life issues for patients, not only in the African-American community, but other communities as well.

“In Western society in general, we should address this phase of life more openly,” she says. “People need to be presented with their options for this part of their lives while they can still make the decisions for themselves.”

Woodson says her newfound career satisfaction might never have been realized if she hadn’t taken a closer look at her dreams with the help of Vicki Saitz, an admissions representative from Fontbonne University OPTIONS.

“I was pretty content with life and my job as a registered nurse when I received a card in the mail from Fontbonne. I carried the card around with me for quite awhile,” she says. “I kept thinking about one of my favorite quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ Then one rainy day, I called. I was expecting an answering machine, not a warm, friendly voice.”

Woodson quickly discovered that her tucked-away dreams to do even more with her life weren’t really that far out of reach.

“Before meeting Vicki, I had a different vision of university life. I envisioned myself wandering around, trying to figure things out on my own, but OPTIONS was just the opposite. It was organized,” she says.

Fontbonne OPTIONS is designed specifically to accommodate the needs of busy, working adults with convenient, practical and accelerated undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Woodson enrolled in the Fontbonne OPTIONS BA in Organizational Studies, completing the degree in October 2007. She says Fontbonne gave her not only the right credentials, but also the skills and confidence she needed to apply for and succeed in her current position.

“I was already comfortable with public speaking to familiar people in smaller venues, but now I give powerpoint presentations and audio-video interviews for groups that range in size from ten to hundreds of people,” she says.

She recently completed coursework for graduation with a BS in Nursing from the Chamberlain School of Nursing, and is considering returning to OPTIONS for a master’s degree.

With its main campus located in Clayton, Fontbonne University has also established OPTIONS sites in North County, South County, Chesterfield, Downtown and Fenton.  A new, adult learning center will open in Brentwood in early 2009.

For more information, call 314-863-2220 or visit

with permission, copyright (2009) St. Louis American / Choices & Careers