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Supportive community helps nursing student excel

Vera Joplin

Vera Joplin’s journey to Stritch was not a clear path. But the end is in sight as she is on track to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2021.

Joplin attended high school in Madison, and although she did not have a specific career path in mind, she was always interested in science. She completed two years of coursework at her first college but soon realized she wanted more from her college experience. Joplin moved home and enrolled in Madison Area Technical College and continued to take courses, not yet sure of her calling.

After moving to Milwaukee and enrolling at Milwaukee Area Technical College, she learned about the Stritch nursing program. The more she learned about the program, and about Stritch, she knew she had found her calling and her University.

The nursing program is rigorous, and Joplin has had to be very diligent in her studies to maintain her 3.1 grade point average. Still, she has never had a moment of regret.

“I have built such solid relationships here with students, instructors, and staff,” she said. “People at Stritch are so genuine, and they really want you to succeed.”

Joplin’s work ethic is apparent outside of class as well. Early in her Stritch journey she had on-campus jobs through work-study, as well as a job at the at St. Luke’s Hospital gift shop. Then she landed a job at Froedtert Hospital in Environmental Services, otherwise known as the janitorial staff.

“That work was humbling, but it taught me a great deal about compassion and respect," Joplin reflected. "I know firsthand how saying hello and acknowledging someone, even the person emptying the trash, can make a difference."

As soon as Joplin became certified as a nursing assistant, she was hired on a medical/surgical floor at Froedtert Hospital. She recently accepted a promotion to nursing extern.

While balancing coursework, clinical rotations and her job this semester, Joplin faced another challenge. Her parents had been helping with her tuition through Parent PLUS loans. But Joplin has reached an age where her parents are no longer eligible for Parent PLUS financing.

“I am three semesters away from the finish line, and I didn’t know how I was going to afford it,” she said.

Fortunately, Joplin is eligible for donor-funded scholarships, and she is extremely grateful to be the recipient of the Walter Berghammer Family Scholarship.

“I am so grateful to all scholarship donors,” she said. “I’m sure there are many students in my position, who would have to drop out for financial reasons, if it weren’t for scholarships. I will honor these gifts by continuing to study and work hard.”