Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kanaly makes great life for daughter

By Eve Barnofsky

PLATTSBURGH N.Y. - Jennifer Kanaly has experienced more in life than most. At a young age

she left college to travel the country, she became a single mom, and is now a nurse practitioner.

A mother of three, Kanaly didn't always think her life would turn out this way, but she couldn’t

be happier.

Kanaly, a Plattsburgh native, began her college career at SUNY Plattsburgh. She had

received a full four-year scholarship due to her academic excellence in high school, and was

planning to pursue a law degree. She majored in political science; however, Kanaly decided that

she did not like it.

She left school and decided to travel the country.

At the age of twenty, Kanaly became pregnant with her daughter, Sage Lewandowski,

and moved to Western, Mass.

“It’s interesting being a mom. Me and Sage kind of grew up together.” Kanaly said.

Her oldest daughter Sage knows hard her mother has worked to give her a good life.

Since it was just the two of them at both a young age they have a bond most mothers and

daughters don’t have.

“My mom is a woman of incredible strength. From the first years of her life to the present

day, she has always pushed herself and worked hard to become the successful person she is

today.” Said Lewandowski.

Needing a job to support her family, she went to a temporary agency and got an interview

at a hospital to transport radiology patients from in-patient care to the X-ray department.

“As I was picking up patients around the hospital I would see nurse aids and thought I

could do that.” Kanaly said.

              That’s just what she did. Kanaly took a nurse aids class and soon after that Sage was

born and they moved back to Plattsburgh. She would then go on to pursue two bachelor degree

and two master degrees.

“Nursing kind of found me in a way. I never intended to be a nurse but it was a

marketable job and I wanted to provide a good life for my girl.” Kanaly said.

Kanaly has always valued education. She came back to SUNY Plattsburgh and pursued a

double bachelor degree in nursing and psychology. She also pursued a master in nursing

education online and got her last masters at Albany Med in Troy. She also taught for them for

their undergraduate nursing program.

“I knew I wasn't going to be using my teaching degree a lot, but I thought to myself if I

am ever going to use it, I am going to do it now.” Kanaly said.

Lewandowski has seen what her mother has done for her education and to provide for her

family and couldn’t be more proud.

“I don’t know anyone who has worked as tirelessly as my mother has. She never once

complains or asks for anything in return” said Lewandowski.

Allie Lyle, a family friend and currently a nursing major at SUNY Plattsburgh, feels

Kanaly is a role model.

“Since I want to be a nurse, she makes me feel like that's possible. When I am feeling

down about grades or the hard school work, she is my inspiration to keep moving forward.” said


Kanaly is now a psychiatric nurse at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital. She has

worked there for 17 years.

“I love being a psych nurse because we all at any point can have mental health issues,”

said Kanaly, “it is a misunderstand population and an undeserved population but some of the

nicest people I have ever meet.”

Being a psychiatric nurse she feels it has real made her a better person and it is where

she's supposed to be.

“You have to figure out yourself before you figure out someone else.” said Kanaly.

Going from being an ICU nurse to a psychiatric nurse, she has noticed the stigma around

mental health, however, she feels that it is coming into the spotlight more and now people want

to start to help those people.

Kanaly has come from a rough background, having had an abusive mother, she was

unsure if she was going to be a good mom at first.

“My family, to me, is my world. I knew that whatever my mom did I wanted to do the

opposite.” Kanaly said.

Her youngest daughter, Hannah Kanaly, feels that she is a great mom.

“She’s a pretty cool lady. She's done a lot for us and I appreciate it. Especially where

she's coming from, she's been an excellent role model and I’m very thankful.” said Hannah


Now married to her husband Sean Kanaly, they have three kids, Sage, Ryan and Hannah.

She and her husband meet at SUNY Plattsburgh while perusing their degrees.

Mr. Kanaly is a teacher at a local high school in Saranac.

“He’s great to me. I wouldn't be able to do any of the stuff that I’ve done. All the stuff

that I told you about I wouldn’t be able to do that without him.” said Kanaly.

They’re simple people Kanaly feels. She rides horses with her daughter, they have two

dogs and two cats and she just likes to spend time with her family outdoors.

“I used to drag Sage up mountains wearing one of those front packs. She had been to top

of mountains before she was born.” said Kanaly.

Lewandowski and Kanaly are one in the same. Being in a room with them you can see

not only are they mother and daughter but best friends.

“My mother, is a force of nature. Her dedication and light will always be felt in the world

around her.” Said Lewandowski.

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