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After failing classes years ago, Amery woman to graduate from CVTC with honors

Monday, May 13, 2024

After failing classes years ago, Amery woman to graduate from CVTC with honors

Female college student in front of CVTC sign

Jessica Somsen, 30, will graduate with a nursing degree from Chippewa Valley Technical College at River Falls after failing core classes at a previous college years ago. “I honestly cry with happy tears every time I think about being an RN because I never thought it would happen for me,” she said.

Like many nontraditional college students, Jessica Somsen took a windy path to her nursing degree.

The Amery woman knew she had a passion for helping people. 

“I honestly can’t think of a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a nurse,” she said. “I’ve been working towards being a nurse for the past decade.”

On Friday, May 17, Somsen’s dream will become a reality when she graduates with her degree in nursing from Chippewa Valley Technical College at River Falls.

She admits getting to this point was sometimes heartbreaking but also rewarding.

Somsen, 30, was born and raised in a small town in central Michigan and was set to attend the community college there after graduating from high school. 

But plans changed. 

She met the love of her life – a long-distance relationship of phone calls and emails that culminated in her moving to Colorado to live with a man she had never seen in person. Three months later, they were married. That was 12 years ago.

During that time, Somsen and her husband moved back to his home state of Wisconsin, and she began classes at WITC, now known as Northwood Technical College, to become a nurse.

It didn’t go as planned. She failed two core classes and was dismissed from the program. She was unable to re-enter the program for two years. 

She thought that was the end of her dream. Turns out, it was simply on hold.

Somsen took a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) position at Amery Hospital, working there for six years before taking another shot at the nursing program – this time at CVTC.

“I was intimidated by the HESI entrance exam. I had not fully realized how much my past failure affected me,” she said. “I had a lot of trauma surface when I got my acceptance letter into the nursing program and driving to that first day of school – a lot of crying and self-doubt.”

But she wouldn’t let her negative self-talk win. 

Somsen put everything she had into her schooling. Now, as she’s on the precipice of graduation, she’s so proud of all of her hard work. 

She has already passed her NCLEX exam and, as soon as she accepts her diploma, she will be a registered nurse. 

“To be honest, it feels surreal to say that I have completed the nursing program and am a registered nurse,” she said. “As horrible as my failure was, I am grateful for it. I was more mature, and with my hospital experience, I felt more prepared when starting this program. Once I went in with a mindset that I was going to do this it motivated me to work hard to achieve that goal.”


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