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Student fast-tracks JTO nursing program to serve country

President and CEO Connie Boerst, left, and Sam Grow following his graduation ceremony at the college.

Shortly after arriving on the Bellin College campus in the summer of 2018, graduate Sam Grow learned he would be deployed with the Army Reserve for a year sooner than he had anticipated. That meant an already fast-track junior transfer bachelor of science in nursing degree became an even quicker-than-usual pace. Grow was deployed in late January on an undisclosed mission.

Bellin College leaders, including President and CEO Dr. Connie Boerst, worked with Grow to make sure he had all the necessary qualifications to complete his studies early and with the same standards expected of all students.

“We value our students and their education and we knew that if we had a deployment in the middle of his education and he had to come back, it wouldn’t be in his best interest,” Boerst said. “With a degree in hand, he’ll have more opportunity when he goes to be deployed. He’ll have a better skill set to serve our country.”

Grow is a First Lieutenant and medical operations officer in the Army Reserve medical service corps. While on deployment, he won’t be serving as a nurse but will be in a more administrative role. It was recently reported to Bellin College that he earned his Registered Nurse title after passing the NCLEX exams before leaving the country.

“When I found out I was deploying with the Army Reserve, Bellin College leaders almost immediately came up with a plan that would allow me to graduate a semester early and take my NCLEX before I left the country,” Grow said. “They worked with me to create a special schedule and made sure I was comfortable with how rapidly I was progressing through the program and offered extensive support throughout my entire journey.  I am eternally grateful for all the staff and faculty and Bellin College, and, thanks to them, I look forward to working in the nursing field upon my return from deployment.”

While on deployment, Grow said he would be doing medical mission planning and support for a surgical team.

Dr. Mary Rolloff was a newly minted Bellin College dean of nursing when faced with Grow’s predicament. She sat with Grow and decided to “fast-track an already fast-tracked program” after initially thinking it couldn’t be done.

“Sam (Grow) was so responsible in notifying us so early of this anticipated deployment that I started thinking, ‘Could we do something different, is there any way so that he could finish and leave with his degree in hand’,” Rolloff said. “He said he would do whatever he needed to do to make this happen and he has done that and more.”

For some of his tailored academic plan, Grow became a section of one and completed group projects and classwork solo, Rolloff said. Faculty, staff and leaders worked to assure all standards were met while working around Grow’s unique needs especially when one two-week training exercise last November, became two, two-week training exercises, she said.

“Not only did he succeed, but he excelled in the process,” Rolloff said. “The reality was it really did take a village for this to happen.”

It’s not the first time Bellin College has done such a task for a student. Staff members recall at least two recent examples when faculty and staff have assisted military students in order to get them through their education and back to his or her military obligations. 

 “After getting my first undergraduate degree from a large state university, I couldn’t believe that the staff would be so friendly and receptive,” Grow said. “I felt like every one of the staff and faculty truly cared about me and my goals, and wanted me to succeed. The faculty all have a wealth of knowledge and experience and were invaluable resources whenever I had questions about content or skills.”

Grow was honored at a special ceremony at the college in early January.

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BSNA students represent college at WSNA convention

Three female students pose at convention.

Lauren Harvey, from left, Valerie Ehr, and Caroline Wagner at the WSNA convention.

The 71st Annual Wisconsin Student Nurses’ Association (WSNA) Convention was held Feb. 7-9, 2020, in Wisconsin Dells. Bellin College had 12 BSNA members in attendance, including three of our students Caroline Wagner, Val Ehr, and Lauren Harvey, who also serve on the WSNA Board of Directors.

The conference began on Friday evening with dinner, a keynote speaker, and games/service opportunities. While still no Bellin winners with the WSNA Olympics, the group slayed Bingo and making rag chew toys for a local animal shelter.

Saturday opportunities included a vendor hall, opportunities to attend a variety of breakout sessions such as learning about various Nursing Specialties, NCLEX Success, and learning about recovery from opioid addiction. The students sold T-shirts during the convention. The day concluded with the “House of Delegates” meeting.  Bellin College had three delegates in attendance in addition to the three board members. Sunday began with additional break-out sessions followed by a closing brunch/ceremony during which awards, and election results were announced. The brunch was well-attended despite the deteriorating winter weather.  

Bellin Student Nurses Association (BSNA) members.

Caroline Wagner, who currently serves as the WSNA president, also was the conference organizer. Dr. Lori Kulju, BSNA co-adviser and MSN program director said she heard many comments about this year’s conference “being the best” in a long time.

“I have attended the conference for the past five years, and thanks to Caroline’s attention to detail and leadership, this conference was by far the best,” Kulju said. 

Both Val Ehr, who serves as the WSNA Nominations Director, and Lauren Harvey, who serves as the WSNA “STAT” editor,  were involved in planning the conference.

The remaining nine students were true ambassadors for the college throughout the entire weekend. Kulju was so proud to say they were Bellin students.  Bellin College also had three BSNA members run for the 2020-21 WSNA Board of Directors. Both Val Ehr and Lauren Harvey were re-elected to serve in their current positions for the 2020-21 year. 

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New Radiation Therapy Program

Bellin College to begin radiation therapy program

Beginning in fall 2020, Bellin College will begin offering a three-year Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy degree. The program, fully accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), aims to give graduates of the program the skills and confidence necessary to be a leader in the field.

“The radiation therapy program perfectly aligns with our current medical imaging programs,” said Dr. Mark Bake, Dean of Allied Health Sciences at Bellin College. “The unique three-year bachelor curriculum focuses on the importance of patient care and the continuous technological advancements in the profession. We are excited to be bringing this high-demand program to the Northeast Wisconsin area.”

Students enrolled in the program will be prepared through a combination of state-of-the-art classroom education, clinical experience and laboratory practice. Graduates will be eligible to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. The final year of the program includes a full-time clinical internship which will provide the real-life, hands-on experience needed to be successful as a radiation therapist.

“The launch of the Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy aligns with the mission and vision of Bellin College,” said President and CEO Connie Boerst. “We are experts at educating healthcare professionals and this unique offering is in high demand in healthcare today. Students will walk away with an outstanding education and will be leaders in the profession. We continue to expand partnerships at the local and state level and are excited to engage in this new endeavor.”

The program is unlike any offered in Northeastern Wisconsin. That uniqueness will give students another option when looking for a career. Employment of radiation therapists is expected to grow 9% from 2018-2028, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More information, or apply

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Bellin College students, faculty, Bellin providers head to Guatemala

Bellin College students recently returned from a medical mission with Mission El Faro to the Izabal region of Guatemala on the East Coast. There were 13 students and 1,400 pounds of medical supplies in tow for the trip. The team traveling consisted of the 13 students, Bellin College faculty, nurse practitioners, nurses who are prior graduates of the college, support individuals and physicians at Bellin Health.

Students returned to the Eliza Martinez Children’s Hospital, the only publicly run children’s hospital in Guatemala, built in 1952 which functions on very low funding from the government. The group brought needed medical and general supplies and large amounts of infant formula to the hospital. The students also taught paramedic and staff members their annual CPR certification and how to utilize the Kits for Girls which are menstrual hygiene kits for teen girls.

For the fifth year, the team set up portable clinics in the villages of Baltimore (80 patients), Rio Salado (76 patients), and the Puerto Barrios Dump (80 patients). This year they served a new community deeper in the jungle called Plan Grande (80 patients), which had the most significant healthcare needs. The group has seen some of the same patients each year. Medical charts are maintained on each patient, which is different than many medical missions where data and patient information is not maintained for comparison between visits.

“The most impactful memory I have from my time in Guatemala was when we set up a clinic in the Puerto Barrios City Dump,” said Martha Daley, 2020 BSN student who attended the mission in 2019. “I remember as we were driving into the dump, I had tears filling my eyes as I saw more and more garbage piling up on the side of the roads and people rummaging through the items for anything they could salvage. I could not, and sometimes still cannot, believe that there are people in this world that make a living off of working in a dump, and worse, live in a dump. At times, it is hard to believe there are people who do that, and living the life we live, we don’t think twice about where our garbage goes.”

The team has made a commitment to the villagers and work with them to provide access to clean water through water filtration systems and stoves which use less natural resources and are more environmentally friendly. 

Students and faculty raised just about $8,000 before the mission trip, which was used to purchase water filters for 35 families, new stoves for 19 families and much-needed prescription and over-the-counter medications and clinic supplies. The group brought 1,250 pounds of equipment to help support our clinics and our teaching activities at the children’s hospital.

“I was excited to bring this year’s Team back to the Izabal region,” said Lynn Murphy, Assistant Professor at Bellin College. “It is wonderful to see the same patients return to our clinics each year.  We have worked on developing relationships based on caring and trust with the villagers and I can see the improvements in their overall health over the past few years.  It is an experience that really has the ability to change a student’s understanding regarding healthcare disparities within different communities and the impact that poverty can have on their patient’s health.  It is my hope that will be able to apply and utilize these experiences of running these remote clinics in their future careers in health care, increasing their empathy, respect and caring of all patients.”

The experience of going on the Guatemala mission trip stays with students who elect to join the team on the mission.

“The most important reason why I wanted to partake on this mission trip to Guatemala was to gain a better experience of healthcare diversity in a different culture, and help those who cannot afford healthcare for many different reasons, including the high costs and the distance to travel to gain healthcare access,” said Daley.

For more pictures, see the online gallery. See the video on YouTube.

Read more student stories from the mission on the blog.

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Bellin College Orthopaedic and Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship transitioning to accreditation by AAOMPT

The Bellin College OMPT Fellowship program will be switching accrediting agencies from the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) to the American Academy of Orthopaedic and Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) starting in January 2020. Bellin College is joining several other OMPT Fellowships in this endeavor.

The reasons for this include:

  1. As of Jan. 1, 2020, ABPTRFE will implement a policy requiring residency completion and/or OCS acquisition prior to being admitted to Fellowship. We believe this will inhibit enrollment of well- qualified applicants who have not completed these requirements. By switching to the Accreditation Council on Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Education (ACOMPTE) through AAOMPT, applicants will continue to be considered for admission based on relevant clinical experience and clinical skills within a particular specialty area.
  2. As of Jan. 1, 2020, ABPTRFE will allow mentorship to be provided by physical therapists who are not FAAOMPTs. This standard threatens the rigor and quality of the vital mentorship occurring within OMPT fellowship programs and goes against the quality standards set forth by Bellin College’s OMPT program and IFOMPT/AAOMPT. Furthermore, ABPTRFE will allow 75 hours of live, in-person mentorship vs. the 150 set forth by IFOMPT as the standard.
  3. ABPTRFE continues to place costly, time-consuming, and nonvalued administrative burden on fellowship programs for approval of mentorship sites. We believe that this should be the responsibility of the program director and that approval of mentors vs. sites is more important. While they have engaged in dialogue regarding these concerns, no changes in policy have occurred.

AAOMPT is a member of the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT). By successfully completing an AAOMPT-accredited program, students will meet all standards set for by AAOMPT and IFOMPT, which will qualify them to be declared as Fellows of the American Academy of Orthopaedic and Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT).

Our OMPT Program at Bellin College is thankful for the support AAOMPT has provided for programs looking to take an alternative accreditation path besides ABPTRFE.

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Jennifer Popp, class of 1995, finds home in Bellin Radiology

Bellin School of Radiologic Technology alum Jennifer Popp didn’t originally set her sights on a career in radiology. She first attended UW-La Crosse for one semester, hoping to major in physical therapy. However, she decided she didn’t want to wait years to see if she would be accepted into the program.

“During this transitional period, I overheard a conversation about radiology and it piqued my interest,” said Popp. “I decided to look into a two-year radiologic technology certificate program offered near my hometown of Brillion, Wis. — at the Bellin School of Radiologic Technology.”

Popp began her studies in fall 1993 and remembers her time in the program fondly.

“The Bellin Hospital-based program was definitely the right choice for me,” said Popp. “It gave me and my classmates a lot of opportunities as students. When short-staffed, we could take advantage of many different opportunities. The radiologists were awesome and always wanted to teach us and explain why. It was a different time, of course. We took call over night, which molded a lot of us into great techs. We had to think independently early in the game and built a solid relationship as a team.”

Popp graduated in August 1995. While studying for her boards, she worked at the local grocery store. After passing her boards, she was hired part time in October 1995 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay, and then transitioned to a full-time position in X-ray at Bellin Hospital in December 1995. She passed her mammography boards in 1997. And the rest is history – a long history with Bellin.

She first started working a P.M. rotation and worked her way up to team facilitator in 2010. After eight years in that position, she was promoted to team leader in March 2018. In that role, Popp oversees radiology, mobile mammography, CAT scan, ultrasound and nuclear medicine.

When asked what her favorite part of her job is, her reply was simple. “The people I work with. It would be very difficult to leave. We have such a solid group of techs who get along really well. We are like family.”

Speaking of family, Popp has been married to her husband, Jason, for 24 years and has two daughters, Karissa, 20, and Brianna, 18. In keeping with the family tradition, Karissa transferred into the Bellin nursing program and Brianna plans to do the same after completing two years at St. Norbert College.

Popp applauds the work of fellow alum and former coworker Dr. Mark Bake, who is now dean of allied health sciences at Bellin College.

“Mark does a phenomenal job. He has put his heart and soul into the program and has accomplished so much,” said Popp. “The students get such great opportunities to see the different disciplines for longer periods of time and it really gives them the chance to work in a variety of capacities immediately following graduation.”

Her advice to radiologic technology students: “Remember that you’re on a three-year interview when you are in clinicals. The staff is watching, and they know what you can and cannot do. Get involved, step outside of your comfort zone and take all of the advice you can get. Each technologist does things differently, so remember that the goal is to get the best image possible.”

Great advice, Jennifer!

To support Bellin College students, Popp also joined the newly formed Just$10 Giving Club. As a member, she donates $10 per month toward the Bellin College Annual Fund.

“It’s easy and such a small donation that you don’t even notice it,” said Popp. “College is expensive, there are so many students who can benefit and it’s an opportunity to give back to a school who gave so much to me.”

For more information about the Just$10 Giving Club, visit https://www.bellincollege.edu/support/just10-giving-club/.

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Nursing students attend convention

Lauren Harvey, left, and Caroline Wagner.

Caroline Wagner Lauren Harvey represented Bellin College on Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at the National Student Nurses’ Association MidYear Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren Harvey, BSN class of 2020, is the STAT editor for the Wisconsin Student Nurses’ Association and Caroline Wagner, BSN class of 2020, serves as president.

They attended the convention with several other WSNA board members. They heard from numerous leaders and nursing speaking panels and networked with about 450 nursing students from around the nation. Wagner also was elected to serve on the NSNA Council of State Presidents Planning Committee as the Northern Region representative. This role gives her the chance to continue networking with other state presidents as well as plan the Council of State Presidents (COSP) meeting with three other regional committee members at NSNA’s annual convention in April in Orlando, Florida. 

Wagner and Harvey also joined together with a few other nursing students from around the nation to make a campaign to recruit more members to join NSNA. They got creative with a nursing diagnosis to encourage people to join NSNA to be eligible to receive scholarships. Their poster won second place.

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MSN student James Boddy hopes to be asset to fellow veterans

James Boddy, Class of 2018 and 2020

From the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the military to Bellin College, James Boddy’s journey to become a family nurse practitioner has been a unique one. Born and raised in Iron Mountain, Mich., James originally attended Michigan Tech and earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. After working for more than a year as a personal trainer, he decided he needed a change and joined the U.S. Army in 2010.

Boddy served as an active duty medic for over three years at both Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Stewart in Georgia. This was the first step toward his ultimate goal of becoming a physician’s assistant. He was assigned to a cavalry scout squadron in the 3rd Infantry Division, in which he trained alongside the scouts in wartime exercises and movements, while also providing medical care to soldiers in his unit.

“Medics receive a civilian EMT certification, but also learn critical care skills geared toward common wartime injuries like gunshot wounds and amputations,” said Boddy. “We worked remotely with a lot of autonomy and had to improvise often. We learned to treat injuries without the ideal tools and how to really think outside the box.”

Following active duty, he worked as a financial planner and transitioned to the Army Reserve for another six years. He knew his true calling was the medical field, so he moved to Wisconsin in 2016 to complete his BSN as a junior transfer student at Bellin College.

“My experience as a medic definitely helped me when it came to critical care and medications, but I was never a CNA, so I had to work harder to gain those basic nursing skills in a hospital setting,” said Boddy.

Boddy graduated from Bellin College with his BSN in May 2018 and now works as a part-time RN at Wisconsin Veterans Home at King in Waupaca, Wis. There, he spends his time in a role caring for patients and managing other healthcare workers on the floor. He is also enrolled as a full-time student in the FNP program at Bellin College and will graduate in May 2020.

“I would like to work in the Veterans Affairs system or in orthopedics, preferably in a warm climate like the southwest,” said Boddy. “I can appreciate the struggles that are unique to veterans. It’s not easy to experience the things we have experienced during our time in the military, and I hope to be a great asset to fellow vets.”

His advice to those looking to make a career change or pursue another degree: “Stop thinking about it and do it,” said Boddy. “Have a plan and, if you are passionate about it, pursue it.”

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Karen Sanchez wins 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award

Karen Sanchez, Class of 1997, was selected as the recipient of this year’s Bellin College Distinguished Alumni Award. Fellow alumna Donna Radcliff nominated Sanchez, describing her as “a compassionate and experienced family nurse practitioner and nursing leader with a demonstrated history of making a difference in the lives of the patients and communities she serves.”

“For me, winning this award is more profound than recognizing my personal accomplishments,” said Sanchez. “I am thankful Bellin College supports the kind of work I have done to be worthy of this award. I am proud that my alma mater supports the work of for the marginalized and underserved groups I have advocated for so passionately.”

After graduating from Bellin College in 1997, Karen worked in multiple inpatient and outpatient settings — including positions at employee and student health clinics, an obstetrics clinic, a Hispanic clinic and Green Bay Correctional Institution — delivering high-quality, cost-effective nursing care in the way the experienced nursing faculty taught her at Bellin College.

“The program was rigorous with long clinical hours that prepared me to start as a nurse in many settings,” said Sanchez. “The most valuable skill I gained was therapeutic communication. I remember the course in great detail. We analyzed our conversations with a volunteer patient and learned to really listen. History taking as an FNP is the most important diagnostic tool, and motivating patients in self management of their conditions requires proficiency in listening and speaking.”

Karen excelled in her nursing career and went on to earn an MSN from Concordia University in 2007, becoming a family nurse practitioner. After graduation, she began offering the first office visits, along with Dr. Riquelme, at Bellin Health Clinica Hispana.

In December of 2009, she transitioned to a nurse practitioner role at Outreach Healthcare. There, she served the homeless population until August 2018, while also working at all N.E.W. Community Clinic sites. In August 2018, she left the healthcare for the homeless program and served at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and downtown N.E.W. Community Clinic sites. Karen is highly skilled in community health nursing, the Spanish language, and consistently demonstrates strong nursing leadership by partnering with educational organizations and community group efforts, and acts as a preceptor for emerging nurse leaders.

“Karen is an advocate for the poor and the vulnerable and has made significant improvements by implementing the patient-centered medical home model in the Outreach Healthcare Clinic for the patients and populations in her care,” said Radcliff.

Examples of Karen’s commitment to nursing care excellence are numerous. She provided primary healthcare that helps patients avoid costly hospital stays and ER visits. She handled case management of medical needs, housing, job search and community resources, which reflects holistic patient centered care.

And, as a seasoned FNP, she used the nursing process and makes referrals for substance abuse treatment and mental health services, ensuring behavioral health care needs are met.

“Karen works with patients and populations in some of the most challenging of circumstances,” said Radcliff. “Her compassionate respect of each patient and their families who are often homeless, suffering from mental illness, addiction and numerous co-morbidities requires the very highest integrity, and she demonstrates this value consistently as she serves her patients in this practice setting.”

In 2015, Karen applied for and was nominated to be on the Brown County Board of Health. She went on to enter a competitive selection process to participate in a 12-month leadership program with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She was selected, along with 11 other NPs from across the country, and completed the program in fall 2017. 

Karen was recently selected as director of student health for University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and will be leaving N.E.W. Community Clinic this September.

“As a nurse practitioner, I have been impacted the health of our community as a primary care provider,” said Sanchez. “The most rewarding aspect is learning about the lives of patients. Some have amazing stories about life around the globe. It’s humbling that patients have trusted me to share their life stories. I value that trust.”

When asked what advice she would give to nursing students today, Karen has simple, but impactful advice.

“Be passionate about what you do as a nurse,” said Sanchez. “Know the value of nursing and do not be timid about speaking up for the nursing field. When you become a seasoned nurse, continue to encourage other nurses.”

Well said. Congratulations, Karen!

NOTE: Karen Sanchez will be honored at this year’s Alumni Homecoming on Sept. 12, held at the Green Bay Botanical Garden in Green Bay. For more information, or to register, see the Alumni Events page.

How does Karen Sanchez exemplify the Mission and Values of Bellin College?

» Commitment to lifelong learning — After earning her BSN at Bellin, Karen went on to earn a graduate degree in Nursing, is board certified, and she participates in annual nursing conferences to ensure excellence in nursing care. She is a sought-after nurse expert, serving as a preceptor to emerging nurse leaders and sharing her insights with fellow clinicians and community leaders to improve patient care delivery and reduce the costs of health care.
» Leadership — Karen has served as a community leader and advocate for the patients and populations she serves in Green Bay and Brown County. She is a strong nursing leader who has made significant improvements in the patient-centered medical home model of care; reducing hospital and ER admissions
and improving the health and well-being of her patients. She is a frequent guest lecturer, fostering a learning community for emerging nurses and health care professionals committed to improving healthcare practices.
» Integrity — Karen works with patients and populations in some of the most challenging of circumstances. Her compassionate respect of each patient and their families who are often homeless, suffering from mental illness, addiction and numerous co-morbidities requires the very highest integrity, and she demonstrates this value consistently as she serves her patients in this practice setting.
» Community — Karen’s nursing expertise as a Community Health FNP serving the poor and the vulnerable demonstrates her commitment to her community. Her partnership with educational organizations, health care delivery systems and grassroots organizations has resulted in improvements in healthcare delivery for the Green Bay and Brown County communities.
» Caring — Karen empowers her patients by caring for them in a holistic manner. She applies the nursing process in her professional life and works collaboratively in a patient-centered way. Her patients and the community benefit from Karen’s deeply compassionate care with patients and populations who are often
overlooked or marginalized. I marvel at her tireless advocacy for her patients.
» Excellence — Karen has demonstrated her excellence in nursing by ensuring evidence-based practice and she is a tireless researcher and problem solver. She exhibits this value daily as she cares for patients, measuring the clinical outcomes to ensure prevention of disease, and manages existing disease in partnership with her patients, keeping up to date with needed interventions and improving the health and well-being of her community.

— Donna L. Radcliff
MSN, RN, CPHIMS

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Siblings carry on Bellin College tradition

Students sit in the atrium.

Max and Nellie Soda

A long-standing tradition at Bellin College has been members from the same family attending the school. Whether it’s generational with students attending the same school as a parent or grandparent, or siblings attending together or right after each other, there are many instances of this throughout the years. This spring, Bellin College was home to several sets of siblings. These pairs of siblings have come forward to share their story. They all come from various backgrounds, but all have one thing in common — the desire to help people.

Nellie and Max Soda

Nellie and Max Soda are originally from Princeton, Wisconsin, in Green Lake County. Growing up on a farm with a family of six, their mother’s background as a nurse had an influence on her children.

Nellie Soda found the sonography field with a little help from older brother Max. It was a high school sports injury Max received that sparked an interest in that type of healthcare for Nellie.

Max was a sophomore in high school when he needed an ultrasound on his kidney after coming down on another player’s knee wrong at football practice. Seeing the technology during the ultrasound was intriguing to Nellie, who was a sixth-grader at the time.

“I always wanted to be in healthcare, but I didn’t know which one to do,” she said. “So I liked the technology of sonography because I didn’t really want to do nursing. I’d heard enough war stories from mom, so I didn’t want to do that part. I wanted to do something a little bit different that would still
be useful.”

Their mom being an OB nurse at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin was a factor in Max’s choice to join the 15-month nursing program. He came to the college in January and will be graduating in October 2020. Max began his healthcare pursuits at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in biology before following in his sister’s footsteps and coming to Bellin College.

“Based on the prior education that I had to build off of, the accelerated program seemed like the best route, because you can get in and get out, start making money and get on with life,” he said. “But also that it’s in-person, unlike other accelerated programs. I learn better in person versus an online program.”

While in different programs and different career paths, they still find time to get together as part of a family; church and Sam’s Club being favorite outings. Currently, three Soda siblings are in the Green Bay area. Another brother is studying at UW-Green Bay.

Future plans for the pair are still somewhat up in the air. Max thinks he’d enjoy working in an operating room or an emergency room or doing wound care and maybe eventually becoming a traveling nurse. Nellie is still waiting to find out what parts of sonography she enjoys most or even possibly obtaining more education in the future. Depending on the circumstances she’d like to move back home to the Princeton area.

Erin and Shannon McCauley

Sisters study on campus.

Erin McCauley, left, and Shannon McCaulley study in the atrium at Bellin College.

Sisters Erin and Shannon McCauley both graduated in May 2019, from the nursing program, however, they didn’t come in on the same path. They both found themselves at UW-La Crosse before coming into Bellin College. Erin came to the college as a junior transfer student and Shannon as a 15-month student.

Being in school together wasn’t new for the sisters since they overlapped about two years while at UWL, however, they haven’t lived together since they were in high school. While at Bellin College they only had maternity class together.

“It’s been really nice because we’ve had overlap with all of our classes, so studying together and learning from each other,” Erin said.

Shannon echoed those thoughts. “Since she’s in the JTO option she’s taken the classes before me, so if I have questions she’s really good at helping me or clarifying certain disease processes,” she said. “So she helps me a lot if I’m unsure of information, so that’s been nice.”

Both sisters knew they wanted to be in healthcare in some capacity, but were unsure in which direction they would go.

“Seeing our family and friends and their interactions with the nurses just cemented the fact that I should be a nurse,” Erin said.

Shannon has always been interested in healthcare and nursing. She says the catalyst was watching a friend’s family member going through heart failure and seeing how the nurses handled the family. Observing how nurses explained the information to them in terms they could understand really solidified her decision to go into nursing.

“I knew I wanted to be in healthcare,” Shannon said. “I didn’t know exactly in what way. I thought maybe radiation therapy originally, and then I shadowed and was like ‘nope, I want more hands-on care.’ And just from talking to family members and seeing how much of an impact nurses have, I just knew that was probably where I was headed.”

As for the future, Erin recently accepted a job on the Neuro Floor at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She eventually would like to continue her education with EMT courses and more.

Shannon recently accepted a job at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee on a Medical Surgical Telemetry Unit, but ultimately her goal is to “be someone that helps people in a time of need and provides that relief and comfort when they’re going through a terrible time, and who people respect and can go to if they’re having questions or
concerns.”

Brayden and Brock Maroszek

Brothers hold a Bellin College pennant

Brock, left, and Brayden Maroszek

Brayden and Brock Maroszek of Suamico were both in the BSN traditional program this spring. Being in the same track but on a two-year delay, Brayden graduated in May 2019 while Brock is class of 2021, has helped them continue the bond they forged while growing up.

“I really enjoy seeing him around and it is fun to see him improve. We also are able to help one another like a tutor would,” Brayden said.

Brayden always knew he wanted to go into the medical field.

“When I was in eighth grade I was diagnosed with epilepsy and in the following year had to have brain surgery,” he said. “As a result, I spent a lot of time at Froedtert Hospital and got to see what nurses did. I also wanted to give back after everything other people did for me.”

Brock had a little hesitation when he decided to join the nursing field because he is male, but he now says “it’s where I should be.” One way he looks to make a difference could be by working with male patients. On one of his first clinical experiences, he was able to bring an older male patient out of his shell a little bit and was able to connect with him about sports.

“I went in there and started talking to him and you could tell he didn’t want to engage with other people,” he said. “So basically I went out of my way and I saw on his board he had all football and sports stuff. So I asked him about the Badgers game and he just got a big smile on his face, like nobody had talked to him about that before. That was one of my really good moments in clinical.”

Adrenaline and excitement also attracted Brock to healthcare.

“I always wanted to do something kind of exciting and where I wouldn’t regret all the work I did,” Brock said. “Where I don’t sit in an office every day.”

Aside from the classroom, Brayden found hands-on training most useful.

“My favorite memories from Bellin College are spending time with my classmates and the disaster simulations,” Brayden said. “I really enjoyed being both the patient and the nurse. I feel those sims were great training for both people involved in the situation such as active shooters and how to operate in a hospital when there are large amounts of
patients arriving.”

Brayden graduated from Bellin College on May 18, 2019. His future goals include working at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and, down the line, getting his master’s degree and becoming a nurse practitioner.

Brock’s biggest dream is to be a nurse on a flight team or to one day work in Hawaii. Beyond that, becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse anesthetist are also on his radar.

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