A Hastings resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Graduate Student at Metropolitan State University.
Heather O’Rourke, who graduated with a Master of Science degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Nursing and Health Services. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.
A short time ago, O’Rourke was working evenings as a patient access representative at an emergency room in the south metro so that she could have mornings free to care for her two children while her husband worked during the day. When her youngest child started kindergarten, O’Rourke began attending prerequisite classes at Metropolitan State University, working toward getting acceptance into the Entry Level Master of Nursing (ELMSN) program.
O’Rourke sailed through the prerequisites and began pursuing her nursing degree. She found comfort in the educational community. “Being with the same cohort for seven semesters really has given me the chance to get to know some extraordinary people. Many of us have become friends. Our cohort has gone seven semesters straight, including through two summers.”
Despite her course-load, working as support staff in an emergency room, and parenting two children, O’Rourke spends time each week packing nutrient-rich backpacks to be given to children in need at Food 4 Kids, part of the United Way in Hastings.
The past few years were busy for O’Rourke and her family. Even with her packed schedule, her family still was able to take camping trips and visit the beach in the summer. They look forward to more free time after graduation. “Freedom. We have had every moment scheduled for years. We are really looking forward to being able to spend some time together, to go camping more and to maybe even take a real vacation.”
O’Rourke looks to the future, “I am looking forward to passing the NCLEX and getting my first nursing job.” She plans to continue working with vulnerable adults, in a new capacity. “I want to start by working in psychiatric nursing in a large hospital to gain more experience and confidence; working with these populations and see what opportunities present themselves from there.”