Student Spotlight: Laurie Walker
Laurie Walker first took classes at College of DuPage during the summer of 1983.
"I was attending Illinois State University full-time," she explained. "Taking summer classes at COD was a good way to complete some general education courses so I could participate in a full-time internship during my senior year."
She graduated from ISU with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications in 1986. Many years later, Walker decided to pursue another career. So she returned to College of DuPage in summer 2008 and started completing prerequisites for the Associate Degree in Nursing program.
"College of DuPage has the reputation of having an outstanding Nursing program," she said. "I have heard from many sources that if two graduates are equally qualified for a job, the employer will choose the COD graduate due to how well the COD program prepares their students. Their nursing instructors are well-qualified to teach the courses and bring with them life experiences."
In fall 2010, Walker earned the Illinois Health Improvement Association scholarship.
"This scholarship means that others recognize my academic accomplishments and are willing to support my further education," she said. "They see the passion I have for helping others and educating the community on health issues, and they have attached value to it. It means my hard work has paid off.
"It also made it easier for me to attend COD. I had to cut my work hours down to one day a week in order to accommodate my classes and studies. This scholarship helped fill the gap. Plus, I was paying for my oldest son to attend college at a four-year university."
Two months after graduating in May 2011, Walker was hired as an RN by DuPage Medical Group, which employs more than 300 physicians in 40 locations throughout DuPage County and the surrounding areas. She worked in family practice for one year and assisted five doctors, providing care for patients from birth to death.
"Family practice is a great place to start, because you get exposure to a wide variety of patients and conditions," she said.
She then transferred to DuPage Medical Group's new Pediatric Endocrinology Department, which consists of one physican, a registered Medical Assistant and Walker, the RN.
"Starting a department from scratch has been both rewarding and challenging," she said. "I have been involved in every aspect of developing the department, including creating protocols, building relationships with pharmaceutical reps, providing patient care, ordering supplies, creating department manuals and much more. It has been a fantastic experience. The department is growing, and we are adding another pediatric endocrinologist to our team this year.
"I have been fortunate to be able to follow my passion and help children with diabetes and their families. I am currently working toward becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator as well as a Certified Insulin Pump Trainer."
Walker thanks College of DuPage for helping her by offering courses that are relevant and practical as well as reasonably priced.
"The hospital clinicals exposed me to a variety of wonderful learning experiences. The instructors helped guide me toward what area of the nursing profession would be a good fit for me and have opened my eyes to areas I never knew existed," she said. "I thoroughly enjoy taking nursing classes at COD. Although I don't miss the studying, I do miss the experience. I made some great friends in the ADN program."
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