Kelli Jo Hanken, R.N.

A post from Kelli–


As you know, I’ve been going to school for the past few years again for nursing.  Believe it or not, it’s been a really long time coming!  When I was in high school, I wanted to be a nurse.  I had decided that I was going to go to school for nursing in Rochester, Minnesota at a community college.  I had my living arrangements figured out, financial aid done, and was getting ready to register for classes.  At the same time, being a high school senior, I also decided that eventually I wanted to own a bar and grill in Jackson Junction.

On the day before prom, I came downstairs and told mom that I wasn’t going to Rochester for school.  I didn’t know where I was going, but I just wasn’t going.  Needless to say she was quite surprised and told me that I wasn’t going anywhere until I had the school thing figured out.  I was a mess of tears–mostly cause I just wanted to stay at home–I hate change and this was a big one!  I told mom I wanted to go for business so she said I better go to a 4 year school and suggested “the little college in Fayette.”  I hopped on the internet and looked it up, it seemed fine and I just wanted to leave the house so I told her that’s where I’d go.  Believe it or not, that’s where I ended up.

I pretty much blew off the first year of college, drank too much, spent too much money, tried to go to class atleast half the time, and didn’t make many good choices at all.  Eventually I managed to half cobble my life together and was about to graduate with a double major in management and marketing in 3 1/2 years and was looking forward to moving to a big city to get a big city marketing job, but met Jason the semester before I was going to graduate.  Because he was a farmer, I knew that moving to a big city was out of the question.  I knew that he was “the one” pretty quickly, so I knew that I would have to put my big city dream job aside and choose something that worked with a workaholic farmer and would be conducive to having kids at some point.  I ended up also pursuing a degree in Secondary Education–with endorsements in Social Sciences and Business.

Right before I was going to graduate in December, a previous teacher of mine contacted me and offered me a job working for her as a Customer Service Representative.  She worked with a large Customer Relationship Management Company out of California and had a temporary opening.  I knew I wasn’t going to find a full time teaching job in December, so I said yes, assuming that it’d be for a few months and then I could get a teaching job for the next fall.  Little did I know, that wasn’t how things were going to work.  The job ended up being permanent and I was thrilled.  Some days were better than others (as in most customer service jobs) but I loved my bosses, the facility, and my co-workers.  I really felt valued and as though I was part of a wonderful team.

Fast forward 3 more years and I found out that the company that contracted their work out was going to be pulling their contract and going toa larger global company.  I was going to get laid off.  We didn’t know when, but it was likely going to happen.  I was devastated!  I had never been laid off or fired before and had always had atleast one job!  Even through school, I had worked nearly 40 hours and was always able to take care fo myself.  After  a little bit of thinking and discussing with my family, I found out about a program called the Federal Trade Act which helped individuals whose jobs got sent overseas (mine was sent to Costa Rica) go back to school or train for another career.  On a whim, I filled out the application and decided I was finally going to be a nurse.  When we were approved, I was exstatic!  It was finally going to happen.

I ended up getting laid off on January 10th and started on January 13th at the local community college with my Gen Eds.  After a year of those, I started the nursing program.  Let me tell you this about nursing school–It is hard.  Really hard!  It demands all of your time, energy, and everything you have.  It’ll chew you up and spit you out.  Just when you think you’ve got something, you’ll realize you have it all backwards.  Clinicals are hard.  I had to get up at 0330 in the morning to get ready, drive an hour and 15 minutes and be ready to function by 0550.  Someone told me once that they had heard it was easy after the first class.  I just laughed.  Once you make it through the first class, you realize that you can do it and are too invested to stop, so you just keep signing yourself up for it.  Strangely the person that told me that (in a not so nice tone of voice) happened to make it through the first class, but not the second.

After two years of the best kind of hard and difficult, a case of mono, lots of anxiety, some depression, lots of weeks of having next to nothing in my checking account, and thousands of miles, I did it though!  I graduated on December 15th with 11 other classmates.  Just before graduating, I was talking to my mother-in-law about graduation.  I told her that I was more proud of my Associate’s Degree of Nursing than I was any of my bachelor degrees and she was floored.  Don’t get me wrong, the bachelor degrees were hard, but man–My nursing degree was another level of difficult.

I was lucky enough to have some pretty wonderful people celebrate with me!

Here’s me with my bestie Carver!

Carver (225x400)


Doesn’t Jason clean up nice?  He kept giving me a hard time about going because there was a farm auction, but in true Jason fashion, he really enjoys picking on me!

Me and Jason (225x400)His mom and dad came too!

Jeff and Renee (400x225)And Kalissa of course!  I really think that without her, I wouldn’t have made it.  She had just gone through the program a year and a half before and was a great guiding light!  Side note: Isn’t her hair super cute?

Kalissa (225x400)Carolyn came too!  I’m really going to miss her a lot!  I’ll be stopping in to see her occasionally though–She is so much more than just a tutor to me!  Carolyn (225x400)

And of course, I couldn’t have done it without these two!  I used to work with Amanda’s mom, so I knew her going into the program.  We carpooled lots and she even went grocery shopping with me a time or two–but I don’t think she’ll ever go again!  One of the sad parts of being done with nursing school is that she hasn’t been able to see me all the time and I know she misses me.  But I’m pretty sure I miss her more!  Amanda just got a job at a local hosptial not too far from here!

Amanda (225x400)I took lots of my pre-reqs with this pretty lady.  Her boyfriend farms too, so we often commiserated about the love/hate relationship we had with farming.  Kristina just landed her dream job in pediatrics at a hospital about an hour from her house.

Kristina (225x400)

And then there’s these two!  I don’t quite even know how to tell you how supportive they’ve been of me while I was being irresponsible and indecisive to now when I’m slightly more adult like.  I think we’re all pretty happy I decided to grow up!

Mom and Dad (400x225)And the best part?  I just found out last Saturday that I passed boards!  So now I can officially call myself a Registered Nurse.  Next week, I’ll start my new part time job at a local hospital about 20 minutes away.  I’m actually glad that it’s part time for now so that I can still work at the nursing home.  When I found out, the thing that I was most excited about was recording the temps in the fridge and freezer so that I could sign my name–KH RN.

Jig (225x400)To say I’m happy is quite an understatement!





67 thoughts on “Kelli Jo Hanken, R.N.”

  1. Congratulations Kelli!!!! What an accomplishment!!!! It takes someone special to look after sick people who are not family! I could never be a nurse! Your hard work has paid off!

  2. Congrats, Kelli and Happy Birthday. Good things come to those who work hard. I was 28 when I finally started at the university. I did a 5 year program in 4 years, graduated with honors and was chosen by faculty to speak at graduation. Being older than other students was hard back then and I had a lot to prove to myself, but I did it. I worked 20 hours per week while raising 4 boys, ages 4-14. It took me to the edge of despair and I felt constant worry about money, but I graduated without debt. None. So, I congratulate you on all you have done. There are lots of us out there who understand how precious this moment is. We’re proud of you!

  3. Congrats Kelli! You have worked so hard for this! I was in my 40’s when I went back and finished my Associates Degree in Contemporary Management. Enjoy your accomplishment, you deserve it!!!

  4. Lori from Nebraska

    So, so happy for you Kelli! Congratulations! Love the part about signing your initials! Sometimes it’s the little things that remind you of the BIG, BiG things you’ve come through and accomplished!

  5. That is so awesome, Kelli!! I didn’t realize you were so qualified for other stuff too :) You’ve earned a huge congratulations!! Good work. Deb

  6. Congratulations Kelli! I still remember how I felt when I graduated from WTAMU with my Bachelors Degree ….at 40! Yep, lived in the dorm with the youngsters for two years, allowed myself 4 hours of sleep and lots of study time. Hope I will always remember that feeling of Graduation Day. I also had a job in the jr high waiting for me. I am so proud of and all that year u learned along the way to seeing your dream come true. Hugs!

  7. Congratulation! That degree is a huge accomplishment! Nursing degrees are hard to get. Several women in my community went back to college for their nursing degree when their kids were in their teens. The classes took all their time and we didn’t see much of them for a few years. Until they graduated and were working in the local medical clinic or hospital!

  8. Kelli Jo, you have sure earned your R.N. I enjoyed listening to your “story”. And in the years to come you will be so happy it is all written down here.

  9. Congrats! We have many nurses in our family so I know how hard it is, my mother went to school for nursing when I was in grade school. It was all worth it since she had a life long career that she loved. Enjoy your new job!

  10. chris shepardson

    Congratulations..I just retired in December after 46 years as an RN, but am already back working per diem.. It is hard work but rewarding! Hope you enjoy it for many years!


    Yes, Nursing school sucks. Being a Registered Nurse? FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!

    So proud of you!

    Wishing you the best in your career…..from a fellow RN who also did it the hard way :-)

  12. Congratulations, Kelli. You worked hard and you made it! You know, I read somewhere that it’s the nurses that keep the doctors from killing us, so you’ve joined a very special group. The profession is lucky to have you.

  13. Congratulations Kelli! I’m in awe of nurses. You guys rock. I worked in a nursing home during college and nursing is not for me, I’m just super thankful nurses are there when I need them. Best wishes for a long and fulfilling career.

  14. Congrats, Kelli! I retired from nursing 5 years ago, and I know how very hard yet very rewarding it can be. You worked so hard and I can only imagine how proud you mom and the rest of the family are!

  15. Colleen C. Yarnell

    Congrats! As the daughter and sister of two hardworking nurses I totally appreciate how hard you will work!

  16. Congrats on your major accomplishment. Thanks for taking us through you journey. Enjoy the rewards of all your hard work. Hugs!!!

  17. Way to go , Kelli I think you will be an awesome nurse. Sounds like this is where you were meant to be. Its not for everyone only special people are nurse. I have been one for 40 years and have never looked back its a great calling. God bless you and Jason.

  18. Lots of congratulations for earning your R.N. degree. You’ve worked hard and deserve to bask in the limelight. I’m glad you had a good support system. Now you can be supportive of others working toward their goals. Happy Birthday!

  19. ‘I’ll be stopping in to see her occasionally though’. ……that better be true :). I truly enjoyed you, our visits, and our groups while at NICC, Kelli!!! You will no doubt make a great nurse.

  20. Kelli, congratulations. I enjoyed reading your post. I’m am curious, however, why didn’t you get your MSN instead of the Associates Degree in nursing? Wouldn’t you have qualified for a Master’s program?

  21. Happy birthday, Kelli! Are you going to work for Palmer? My daughter works there. Congrats on passing your boards!!

  22. Quite a story with such a great ending! I think you deserve more than just congratulations but I don’t know a word for that so I offer you congratulations, congratulations & more congratulations!!

  23. I’m so glad you did this! I bet you could add MSN to that list of initials before too much longer! I went a roundabout way to get my RN too. then I went on to get my BSN It was amazing and HARD! I was prouder that I finished my RN than I was the State boards. I knew that if I got out of school, I would pass them
    Congrats again! can’t wait to hear your adventures in Nursing.

  24. Thank you for your story because it’s so similar to a lot of women. Congratulations not just for graduating but for your success and determination in life. Stay focus, always do what’s right and continue to have faith and pray when in doubt.

  25. Hi Kelli, congrads I am happy to hear you decided to become a nurse it is very challenging that very rewarding. I became a nurse 10 years ago started when I was 42 and achieved my RN degree before I turn 50 so I am very glad I took this opportunity it changed my life. School to become a nurse was nothing but difficult and challenging but I would never have achieved that goal without great support from my daughters and my husband and some really great friends I met in school so again I say congratulations for entering into the nursing world. Be ready to start learning because when you were in school it was just an introduction. I believe God has called nurses to the field because you really care about people it’s not the money chilling out about the prestige it’s about caring about people so God bless you and all your adventures to come

  26. So proud of you. Not knowing you but knowing that you have mastered the Life Lesson-keep going and keep trying and you will be yourself and successful all at the same time. Of course that’s how all the winners make it. BTW- you definitely get the WINNER as well as the special
    hard earned “R.N.” Congratulations to the entire village that took the journey right along woth you.

  27. From one RN to another, you will always be able to be employed. You have chosen a very valuable profession.
    Just remember that when you cannot control thingss at work you can make that fabric do what you want!

    Kudos on you accomplishment, Kelli RN.

  28. Congratulations on finishing school and passing NCLEX. As a recently retired nursing professor at an AD program, I have a pretty good idea of the work and commitment you have completed. It helped to have supportive family and friends, but only your classmates could really understand what you had to do. You will never regret that RN behind your name and the opportunities for further growth (or not) depending on family priorities, will always be there. I so enjoy you and your Mom’s blog and wish I could attend your retreat this summer. I will look forward to reading about it.
    Again, congrats!

  29. Sandra Davidson

    Congrats Kelli it sure is exciting when you can write that RN behind your name. You worked long and hard to get there and I know how important nurses are. I graduated 53 years ago in Canada but I think it was a little easier back then living right next to hospital. . It brings back many memories. I can only imagine how proud your family is of you. I always loved working with the seniors and now I am one. Hugs and blessings

  30. Your story is so inspiring and encouraging. I am an LPN going back for my RN and it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am mom, Nana and working full time as well. Congratulations to you on a job well done and thanks again for taking the time to share your story.

  31. Congratulations! Hard work paid off!! A good friend of mine’s daughter is doing a 18 month program after her bachelors. Couldn’t find a real job. Changed her field from health administration to nursing. It was the best thing she had done. Thanks for sharing your story!!

  32. Congrats!! You have worked hard and you deserve some “at’ta’ girls”!

    Your first year in college sounds like my son’s, he’s 22 now so that means I have to wait another 8 years for him to grow up?!

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