Grad Stories '17
Kendra Hodel earned her St. Ambrose Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree a semester early at Winter Commencement Ceremonies on Saturday at the RiverCenter in Davenport.
That should come as no surprise to those who know the driven and talented SAU student well.
Until this past semester, Hodel was a full-time student while essentially working three jobs: two off-campus jobs – one full-time the other part-time – and a work-study position in the SAU Enrollment Technology Office.
At the start of the Fall semester, Hodel cut her full-time job to part-time hours and left the other two jobs behind in order to better focus on her academics.
Even then, the soon-to-be cum laude graduate found time to pursue and interview for three different nursing jobs at the University of Iowa. A native of Anoka, Minn., Hodel also had an invitation to interview for a nursing position at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., but declined after accepting a University Hospitals job offered in the midst of her interview.
"On October 30, I interviewed for a position as an otolaryngology medical surgery nurse, hematology and oncology nurse, and trauma surgical step down unit nurse," Hodel said.
During her phone interview with the manager with the last of those, she was informally offered the position on the spot. "I was in shock when I was offered the position. Then everything became surreal when I was contacted by the human resources department and they extended me an official offer," said Hodel, who accepted that position.
Hodel might have followed her high school friends to a college in Minnesota, but she expanded her horizons by expanding her search. When a family member suggested she visit St. Ambrose, she did.
Instantly, Hodel knew she'd found a comfortable place beyond her former comfort zone.
"It offered a fresh perspective," she said.
It also offered a strong nursing program, and Hodel's choice was sealed when she was granted early admittance into the major based on her test scores, high school grades, and aptitude.
"Receiving early acceptance to the nursing program really solidified my decision and I'm glad it was the decision I made," she said.
'My class loads have always been heavy, but now that I've reached the end, I can say it was all worth it.'
Kendra Hodel '16
Hodel came to St. Ambrose with a number of college credits she earned while taking community college courses in high school. Between transfer credits and credits that the industrious Ambrosian earned through summer classes and a winterim course, she has afforded herself the ability to graduate a semester early.
"I have worked very hard on my classes, my work, and my homework," she said. "This has helped me develop resiliency that I didn't know existed. My class loads have always been heavy, but now that I've reached the end, I can say it was all worth it."
As Hodel prepares to leave SAU, she still remembers feeling unsure of herself and the possibilities during her initial visit with Academic Adviser Ann Garton, a clinical assistant professor in the Nursing Department, 3½ years ago.
She said Garton was encouraging and helpful then and has been a source of encouragement ever since. When Hodel visits Garton now, she said they laugh together over that initial uncertainty while Garton "points out my growth as a nursing student."
Hodel said so many St. Ambrose relationships just like that pushed her to grow.
Not that this studious, hard-working, soon-to-be nurse needed much of a push, of course.