Clare Buchholz never paid much attention to nursing until her parents asked what interested her.
“Being caring parents, my Mom and Dad sat down with me and told me to tell the story of my life so far, hoping that somewhere along the line was the answer to my problem,” she said. “My mother told me that the best career is one where my passion meets my talents. In the end, I decided that I wanted to be a geriatric nurse because I grew up in an orphanage that was attached to an older-age home and truly enjoyed my times with the residents.”
The orphanage was located in Vietnam, and Buchholz spent her first nine years there. It was not an easy life.
“We younger kids were treated unkindly by older kids,” she said. “There was no safety and stability in life, and we could not depend on other people to help us. Worst of all, we lacked parents who could give us love and support.
“Despite the many difficulties, there was a bright side. My orphanage was connected to an older-age home. Many times, I would sneak over the fence to talk and play cards with the older people. It was during these times when I came the closest to receiving what I needed the most—love. The older people, especially a lady whom I will never forget, showed me what love was and how it felt to be loved. This is the time I look back to as when I found my calling to be a geriatric nurse.”
Buchholz and her sister were both adopted at the same time, and their parents brought them to the U.S. She now is the oldest of eight.
When it came time for college, Buchholz was fortunate to live near College of DuPage, which offered affordable tuition and a well-regarded Nursing program. She also received several scholarships through the College of DuPage Foundation: the Hal Keller/Forbes Scholarship, Naperville Rotary Charities, Lillian Neale Campbell Scholarship, the Paul W. and Katherine T. Hedburn Impact Scholarship, and the Foundation Supplies Scholarship.
“Not only did COD help me learn the knowledge and skills I needed to become a nurse, it also helped me financially through local and foundation scholarships,” she said. “These donors also helped me in something that I believe is much more meaningful, which is realizing how blessed and fortunate I am. Best of all, COD allowed me go after my dream.”
Buchholz completed her CNA certificate, passed her NCLEX-PN and worked as a licensed practical nurse at Maple Glen, a memory care facility where she completed a clinical. In 2020, Buchholz earned her Associate Degree in Nursing.
“Even though our class had a virtual graduation, it was still so special and brought tears to many, including me,” she said. “I graduated from one of the hardest programs out there, and I could not be prouder of myself. Once I graduated, I was thrown into the mess that COVID-19 has made, but I could not have made it without going through COD’s Nursing program. It made me a strong and resilient woman.”
COD allowed me go after my dream.
Buchholz currently works for the Association for Individual Development (AID), a nonprofit agency for adults who have intellectual disabilities.
“Working with my clients, I have enjoyed learning about their backgrounds and what made them who they are today,” she said. “Knowing about their disabilities and struggles have made me appreciate who they are. They bring smiles to my face with their stories or excitement about simple things, like going out to eat or completing a daily task. Being at AID, I leave every day rewarded because I have touched so many lives just by simply smiling.”
Buchholz advises any student to take advantage of College of DuPage.
“It is a perfect place to start following your dreams,” she said. “Even if you have no clue what you want to do, you can at least get the general education out of the way at a very reasonable cost. I have heard that most people in the end found their passions and talents at COD.”