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Malone is in our blood

John Milburn ’07, ’13 is perhaps Malone’s only alumnus who can say that he attended college with his wife… and his daughter… and his son.


In that timespan, he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing science – while completing three tours of duty as a medic sergeant in Iraq.

John’s wife, Christine ’07 and ‘09, a nurse practitioner at Union Physician Services Central, fought cancer the summer between finishing her bachelor’s degree and starting her master’s. His daughter, Richelle Richardson ’08, and ’11 got married two weeks into Richelle’s BSN program, and had a daughter while finishing each of her degrees. John II ’11 and ’13, celebrated the birth of his son, John III during his BSN program in 2009.

“You might say Malone is in our blood,” said John I with a chuckle. “We’ve been through a lot, but we’ve really enjoyed going through the program together.”

Richelle claimed that she and her father were the best study partners.

“My brother thinks like my mom, but my dad and I think in the same terms,” she said. “So we helped each other. And my dad was so helpful to me especially in the pharmacy classes because of his work with oncology patients for so many years and knowing all of the different kinds of cancer drugs.”

Father and son were the most recent graduates – they received their master’s degrees in August of 2013.

John Milburn I and II

“Both the nursing degree completion program and the MSN are really a ‘working person’s program,’” said John II, a former RN at Mercy Hospital in their critical care unit. “We’ve really liked being able to take one class at a time, and feel like we’ve been prepared really well. When I talk to employers who find out I earned my degrees from Malone, they want to hire me.”

After graduation, he was hired as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Burrier Family Practice. 

Richelle enjoyed both programs, but especially her MSN.

“The flexibility of the program was great, because it was a long day but nurses usually work in 12 hour shifts, so I could still work and get all my clinicals in and study and everything. So it was intense, but I felt so much support from my professors,” she said. “They pray for you, they are really committed to helping you succeed – and they encouraged us to come to them at any time with any thing at any time – even if it was two o’clock in the morning!”

John and Christine’s careers started a number of years ago: Christine became an LPN in 1994, achieving her childhood dream of becoming a nurse; John was a Navy veteran and construction worker, and joined the Army Reserves in 1991, then became a medic. The first Gulf War had just started and he had a desire to serve his country in that capacity: a career that has taken him to Bosnia, Panama, Hungary, Germany, and Iraq.

“On my first day of clinicals, I knew that this [nursing] was my calling, and what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life,” John I said. “I loved taking care of patients.”

“Dad was going to nursing school when I was in eighth grade,” John II explained, “And I remember saying, ‘I want to see you Dad.’ And he would say, ‘here help me study this.’ So as a kid, I became fascinated with how the human body worked. I went to work with my mom, too, and while I thought I would be a doctor instead of a nurse, I love being an RN! Being a nurse instead of a doctor means that I get to spend more time with my family and I don’t have to be on call all the time.”

But Richelle was not planning on becoming a nurse at all – she wanted to have a career in music or art.

“I was very involved in choir and band in high school, and thought I wanted to do that. But as I researched it, I was concerned it would be too difficult to find a job in the area,” she said. “Both of my parents worked at Aultman, and I attended a ‘take your kid to work’ day, and I realized how many options were available in nursing, so I started getting serious. I fought with the idea of becoming a nurse, but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Richelle is a nurse practitioner at Pediatric Health Care, Inc., in Canton, and is excited that the practice will expand to a Family Practice in the late summer or early fall, welcoming patients of all ages.

“The majority of our patients are Medicaid patients, and I have really gotten to know the families more than I realized I would,” she says. “It will be a nice thing to serve the parents as well when we expand, so I’m really excited about this change.”

While Richelle was finishing her master’s degree, her brother often baby-sat her older daughter while she was in clinicals. Now John – married to a nurse, of course - has two children of his own.

“We joke sometimes about starting our own family practice,” Richelle said. “But it could be a possibility because we’ll all be NPs [nurse practitioners]. My sister-in-law is a nurse, too, and my husband is really great with computers, so he’s our IT guy.”

“I am so proud of my family,” said Christine. “We’ve worked really hard, and we all love what we do."

Richelle’s young daughter, Brianna, already talks about becoming a doctor or nurse and constantly practices on her baby dolls.

So Malone University looks forward to educating a third generation of Milburn-Richardson Malone nurses.