Elysia Ockenga is beginning her seventh year as a teacher at Union, working in the Division of Nursing. A graduate of Union herself, Ockenga’s teaches the Mental Health and Pharmacology classes in the nursing curriculum. “As I teach these classes I try to keep in mind that I am training nurses who will take care of someone’s mother, child, grandparent, or spouse. Helping the students to learn drug actions, side effects, symptoms of disease processes, treatment options, and how to use therapeutic communication will impact how they take care of others. I want to make sure that my students have the knowledge to provide high quality care to their patients.”
Union: Why did you choose to become a nurse?
Ockenga: I chose my career because I am passionate about helping others. I felt that if I was a nurse I could help people in some very significant ways, not only to provide medical support but to provide emotional support as well.
Union: Where have you worked before teaching at Union?
Ockenga: My profession is nursing. I worked at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, now CHI: St. Elizabeth, for nine years as primary care nurse on the Medical/Oncology/Stroke unit. I began working at Union College in the Division of Nursing in 2009. During that time period I have taught a variety of courses and have enjoyed working with students and preparing them for their careers in nursing.
Union: Do you have any strong memories from when you were a student at Union?
Ockenga: I will never forget my first day as a student at Union College. I was a transfer student and didn’t really know anyone on campus, there were some key people who really made an effort to help me out that day and I will never forget their acts of kindness.
Union: Where did you go to school?
Ockenga: I graduated from Union College with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. I received my Masters of Science in Nursing from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Union: Can you tell me a little about your family?
Ockenga: My husband Nathan is also a graduate of the Union College Nursing Program. He is now working as a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) with Associated Anesthesiologists PC group here in Lincoln. I have three children, Adin, Abbie, and Anders.
Union: After seven years, what do you like best about Union?
Ockenga: I’m thankful that I can be a part of a Christ-centered community that strives to help students become the best people they can be.
Union: Do you have any advice for your students?
Ockenga: I hope all students will keep the following quote in mind as they go through life. “Important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus allies in learning.” – Carol Dweck.
By Elizabeth Bearden