Julie Huisken MSN'22

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Huisken MSN '22

As a new transplant to Minnesota in 2019, I finally had the time to fulfill my dream of earning my master’s degree. I came to Minnesota because it is my husband’s home state and he was retiring from the military. He was inspirational in leading me to St. Catherine University. Until then, my dream of an advanced degree in nursing had been stopped and started countless times over the past two decades.

As an active-duty military mom with small children, I chose to pause my nursing career to raise my children, a choice I was fortunate to be able to make. As much as I loved being the ‘rock for my children’, I was concerned my break from nursing would end my academic options. But not in the eyes of St. Catherine’s. The admissions personnel validated that I was still a competitive candidate for the nursing program with my years of clinical and teaching experience, a current nursing license and lots of volunteer opportunities to boast about. I felt there was a place for me at St. Catherine’s.

Even in my first academic class, a prerequisite online statistics class, the instructor was super friendly, organized and intelligent. She was so kind and I could tell she honestly wanted me to do well.

Once that last hurdle was completed, on to the graduate program I went. It was evident that the faculty at the School of Nursing wanted me to graduate and to succeed, too. Early on in my program I knew I wanted to go beyond a master’s degree and earn my Doctor of Nursing Practice; however extra practicum hours were required. My program director helped align independent study opportunities for me under the guidance of the associate dean to reach that personal goal and earn those practicum hours. When you are mentored by top people in your school, that’s really incredible. This is just one of several unimaginable opportunities that helped me flourish at St. Catherine’s.

A few semesters later my same program director and the dean of the School of Nursing helped myself and another student team up and apply to become Digital Innovators and recognized Apple Teachers. We are the first team from St. Catherine’s to join this national program explicitly for graduate nursing students. We wouldn’t have gotten there without the support and guidance of St. Kate’s nursing leaders.

One of the most surprising things about St. Catherine’s were the connections. When other nurses I now work with in Southern Minnesota ask me where I earned my degree, I mention St. Catherine’s. Often, the response is, ‘St. Catherine’s? You must be smart.’ I smile and say, ‘It was a fantastic experience and they helped me become smart.’ As part of the Nurse Educator program, I explored the role of academic nurse at an institution in Mankato, Minnesota and wouldn’t you know, the program director even had ties to St. Catherine’s. Katies are everywhere, it seems, and they really take care of each other.

I believe my husband led me to the kindest people at the School of Nursing — people who truly exceeded the reputation of ‘Minnesota nice.’

My dream job is to become a full-time undergraduate professor. I graduated in May of this year with a master’s degree and a few honors cords around my neck. Only because when I asked for help, genuinely professional instructors said, ‘sure, I’d be glad to help — when do you want to meet?’”