Graduate comes full circle: Student, mother, studentAnne Finstad realized as she approached Meyer Middle School for the rehearsal of her Chippewa Valley Technical College graduation, it looked awfully familiar. A River Falls resident since the 6th grade, she’d graduated high school in the same building and on the same stage that is now Meyer.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Anne Finstad realized as she approached Meyer Middle School for the rehearsal of her Chippewa Valley Technical College graduation, it looked awfully familiar.
A River Falls resident since the 6th grade, she’d graduated high school in the same building and on the same stage that is now Meyer.
Finstad, 48, received a nursing degree from CVTC Monday night. As of Friday, she was expecting her whole family there with her: Husband Dennis; five children Charity, Cherie, Nathan, Nick and Priscilla; and five grandchildren.
Two of Finstad’s daughters go to UW-River Falls. She said it’s been interesting to be a student at the same time her daughters are.
“They both have a different appreciation for Mom,” said Finstad.
She admits to feeling a little out of place the first day of CVTC nursing school 2 1/2 years ago.
An incoming student mistook her for staff then looked at her funny as Finstad took a seat in the orientation room.
She explains with a smile how after that, she bought a hot pink CVTC sweatshirt, wore jeans with tennis shoes and covered the gray in her hair.
It helped her feel more like she fit in Soon she realized she did.
She ignored the good-natured ribbing her family and new-found friends sometimes gave her.
“I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was 19,” she said.
Finstad married young, raised five children, worked in the medical field and has what most would call a good job. As her last child left the house, her mind kept returning to the idea of nursing.
She thought about enrolling at CVTC for five years before actually doing it.
She started part time in Eau Claire then transferred to River Falls where she ended up liking the program even more and was closer to home.
As she came to feel comfortable and make friends, Finstad says study groups were interesting because she was usually the only one with a house, food or an income.
Her fellow students of all ages helped broaden her perspectives, and she learned from them as well, like how to cram for exam.
“I made a lot of friends, lifelong friends,” she said.
Finstad works at Hudson Hospital and has education in X-ray and ultrasound.
Having that medical background not only helped her in the classroom and in clinical labs, but also in steering toward the work she loves most.
Finstad also addressed the graduates at Monday’s ceremony, her essay picked as a “winner” and she as the student graduation speaker.
She said the school asks for people to write something. She waited until the last minute to make sure she didn’t steal any of her classmates’ thunder.
She looks to go into home health care and figures there will be a lot of baby boomers who will need help staying in their homes.
Though she says she’s enjoyed her jobs in a hospital, Finstad looks forward to more people-to-people work and hands-on kind of care.
The now-former student says she thinks the world of CVTC and its nursing education program.
She deems the instructors “cream of the crop” and says she’s valued their practical experience as nurses as well as their knowledge as instructors.
Finstad laughs that her age difference probably worked to her advantage in relating to instructors since most of them were within her generation.
Finstad said the education built on itself, and she was impressed how it all came together at the end. She said the teachers helped her learn so much more than just “the book.”
The graduate admits that math was probably her biggest challenge, followed by the technological challenges of turning in papers electronically plus taking a few online classes.
She said the sheer volume of information in math was intimidating. Some of it had changed since she’d last studied it.
But, says Finstad, CVTC helped her figure out what kind of learner she is and from there, light bulbs started clicking on.
Another thing the soon-to-be nurse looks forward to is more medical missions. She helped do a medical camp in India and found she enjoys sharing her talents with the disadvantaged.
“My experience there has changed me forever,” said Finstad.
One of her classmates is from Africa and has already invited her to the country. She plans to go and will look for other mission opportunities as well.
Some of Finstad’s younger counterparts would sometime ask her why, if she had a good-paying job, would she want to subject herself to nursing school? Her response: She wants to live out her days doing something she loves, fulfilling a dream.