When she was a child, Joyce Koenig wanted to be a nurse or a paramedic.
“As I got older, I didn’t think I would be good at dealing with blood and guts,” she said. “However, I was always reading medical articles or watching programs about the medical field. Family members started calling me for advice when they got sick.”
While pregnant with her daughter, Koenig developed HELLP Syndrome, a life-threatening complication of pregnancy that is believed to be a severe type of preeclampsia.
“I had to deliver my daughter at 25 weeks because of this,” she said. “I was in critical condition and my daughter, Chloe, only lived two days. That’s when I knew I wanted to become a nurse so I could care for mothers and babies during high-risk pregnancies. I want to help them have better outcomes.”
After starting to pursue a Nursing degree at College of DuPage in 2005, Koenig put her education on hold due to a variety of factors. First, she and her family moved out of district. Then the recession hit, and she began working full-time while caring for her children and her mother, who had dementia.
When her family moved back to DuPage County, Koenig returned to COD but had reservations about restarting her college education.
“I was worried I was now too old to pursue a degree but quickly changed my mind,” she said. “I received a great education and was taught by many wonderful professors, especially those in the Nursing program. For instance, Dr. Janice Miller and Professor Maureen Waller not only taught me what I needed to know for my degree, but they also shared their real-life experiences with me in the area of nursing that I want to pursue. They are both very caring and I appreciated their advice and encouragement.
“However, the best encouragement came from my husband, children and the patients I met at my clinical sites.”
While at College of DuPage, Koenig received several scholarships through the College’s Foundation: The Foundation Supplies Scholarship, the Foundation Returning Adult Scholarship and the Health Initiative Scholarship. She also was a member of the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and volunteered for the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative, where she was involved in its Maternal Hypertension Initiative as a family advisor.
Having earned her Associate Degree in Nursing, Koenig initially worked as an RN at a community hospital and was just hired to work at AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in its Labor and Delivery department. She also became a member of Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Purdue University through its RN to BSN online program. Eventually she would like to earn a master’s degree and possibly teach.
Koenig is glad she chose the Nursing program at College of DuPage.
“I always wanted to be a nurse but feared I was not capable of handling the physical and emotional things that come with nursing,” she said. “It was after losing my daughter Chloe and going through some other difficult events that I realized I could handle those things. I wanted to help people.
“I am so happy I overcame my fears and entered the Nursing program at COD. I met so many supportive counselors, librarians, tutors, professors and fellow students, and I made many life-long friendships. There are so many supportive teachers at the College who are willing to spend the time helping you reach your goals for your education and beyond. It has changed my life for the better. I also hope it is changing my patients’ lives for the better. So, believe in yourself and pursue your dreams. You won’t regret it!”