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Wendy Holder

Brainerd, MN
Major: RN to Bachelor of Science in nursing
BSU Class of 2011
Route: online
St. Joseph’s Hospital, RN, Grace Unit, and
Clinical nursing instructor, Central Lakes College, Brainerd, MN

Career aspiration:
Do more teaching, possibly full-time in a nursing program where she can share her own experiences and help others prepare for professional nursing careers.

Wendy Holder

In 2008, Wendy Holder, a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Brainerd, had a chance conversation with the nursing director at Central Lakes College.  It was just two weeks before school started, and the director needed a clinical instructor for the LPN program.  Holder decided to give it a try.

“When I first started teaching, I was scared to death,” Holder recalls.  “But by the time I was done with the semester, the students had no idea that it was the first clinical that I had taught.”

Holder taught twice a week for two semesters but needed her bachelor’s degree to continue.   The challenge, she says, was finding a program flexible enough for her to continue working at the hospital, teaching part-time and managing family life. 

Holder’s life is full.  She and her husband have four children, two still at home, and their first grandchild. They live on a hobby farm, tending to 75 chickens, six 4-H calves, two horses and a pony; a vegetable garden; and prized flowerbeds.  In the fall, the entire family enjoys deer hunting.  She didn’t want to give any of that up to return to college. 

Then a colleague suggested Bemidji State. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is a lot of classes,’” Holder says, recalling her first look at the BSU curriculum.  “And it was all online, and that seemed like a big challenge to me.  My two daughters helped a lot with the computer part.”

Starting the BSU program in Fall 2009, she spent the following summer working toward her associate’s degree, which she will complete with a combination of online and self-directed study courses.  Now comfortable with online-learning, she added Internet access to her cell phone for even more convenience.

“The flexibility of the BSU program is really nice,” says Holder, who often studies at the kitchen table with her two youngest children, 15 and 11.  “If we’ve got something going on with the kids, I can participate.  I can work ahead and be with them.”

Plus, she says that she finds the coursework more rigorous and comprehensive than she anticipated. 
“Not all programs do as much as we do at Bemidji State,” Holder explains. “We cover a lot more material and in more detail than they do in some other places.  I feel a little more prepared with BSU than if I’d gone with another program.”

She admits her flower garden has suffered while she’s been studying, but she’s excited about finishing her degree.  Next, she says, she may pursue a master’s degree.