Samantha Wirth’s grandmother, who was a nurse in Norway before moving to the U.S., hoped her granddaughter would follow in her footsteps.
However, Wirth decided to pursue a career as a licensed cosmetologist, unsure that nursing was the right career for her.
“To be quite honest, I did not think I had what it takes to be a nurse and allowed that anxiety to choose a different career path after high school,” she said. “What led me to revisit my interest in nursing was my good fortune to have fantastic nursing experiences with the complicated births of my two children. These experiences are where my motivation to work as a nurse in women’s health truly began. I knew that after 12 years of working on the outwardly appearance of my clients, I was ready to serve the community in a different way. With the desire to help others, the motivation to try and support of my family, I applied to College of DuPage’s Nursing program and was accepted.”
Before starting the Nursing program, Wirth spent several years taking one class at a time while working full time to complete her general education requirements. This also allowed her time to determine if college was right for her and to build her family.
Attending COD also gave her the flexibility to complete her education.
“As a mom with two small children, a full-time job and as a military wife with a deployed spouse—flexibility was a necessity!” she said. “In my time at COD, I took night classes, early morning classes, online classes, hybrid classes, Adult Fast Track classes and traditional 16-week classes. Without this unmatched flexibility of class schedules, I would have never been able to balance my life well enough to make it to graduation.
“As for the nursing program itself, I knew that I wanted to attend an accredited program that would be transferrable in order to pursue higher education. Fortunately, after researching local programs, the best one in the area was here in my back yard. If you want to be the best, then you must learn from the best, right? Coming from a program with such a highly rated reputation can open the right doors, both for further education and for employment.”
Wirth praises the faculty and staff who helped her along the way.
“Everyone wanted to see me succeed,” she said. “Regardless of what I needed help with, there was a resource available to me at the tip of my fingers to support my educational goals. That level of support is unparalleled and is truly what I attribute to my success.”
Having graduated from the program, Wirth’s long-term goal is to become a women’s health nurse practitioner and international board-certified lactation consultant. She had planned to join her husband, who is in the Navy and stationed in Japan, but the pandemic prevented her and her children from doing so.
Instead, she is back at COD as a laboratory assistant in the Nursing program.
“It’s not at all what I thought I would be doing, but I really enjoy it,” she said. “The education environment is such a special place and has me toying with the notion of becoming an educator myself.”
Wirth is grateful for everything she learned at COD.
“I learned the art of holistic nursing from a team of highly experienced nurses, many of whom are currently practicing,” she said. “Their real-life expertise and wisdom have shaped my nursing values and the approach I take in providing nursing care. The most incredible part to me is that now I have a collection of brilliant, veteran nurses who have now become references for when job hunting begins.
“My best advice to students considering COD and the nursing program is to GO FOR IT! At a minimum, take one class and give it an honest try before ruling COD out. Once you get into the Nursing program, it may seem daunting and difficult. Keep at it, focus solely on your education and you will be a nurse before you know it!
“I felt like the cards were stacked against me as a military wife to a deployed spouse with two little ones at home, the demands of home ownership, and an established career—but I was not alone. In reality, we all have our struggles. The beauty of College of DuPage is that most of my classmates had families and responsibilities at home, but we were able to look to each other for support. It took discipline, flexibility and a lot of help, but I was able to do it. Most importantly, I have been able to show my children that overcoming adversity leads to strength. I keep remembering a time when I never thought I would be where I am today and become overwhelmed with pride. This experience has been both the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done for myself. I am so proud to call myself an alumna of College of DuPage.”