Meet Jenny Borgstrom (’23), a single mom of six who successfully balanced home life and school to become an ER nurse.
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories highlighting a few of Concordia’s uncommon May 2022 graduates. Faculty and staff submit candidates for consideration. Stories are posted in the days leading up to commencement. View more uncommon graduates here.
Jenny Borgstrom is one of those rare personalities who keeps her calm under crisis.
Maybe it is the result of being a single mom of six kids ranging in age from 2 ½ to 12. Or maybe she became conditioned to high-pressure situations during her time in the military. From 2009 to 2012 she served as a Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy.
Or perhaps she’s just used to making the most of less-than-ideal situations at this point in her life. Over the past several years Jenny’s hardships have included: a recurring knee injury, an autoimmune disease that left her temporarily visually impaired, and a separation from her husband in the midst of COVID and her studies at CUAA.
Through it all she has persevered. And all of it, no doubt, has helped prepare her to be a rock for others in the midst of their hardships.
On Sunday, Jenny will celebrate the completion of her hard-earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She joins more than 150 other Concordians to make up CUAA’s graduating class of 2023. She will graduate with Magna Cum Laude distinction.
From Sweden to Michigan
Jenny, a Brighton resident, will put her even-keel temperament to work as an emergency room nurse. She recently accepted a position at the University of Michigan Hospital.
“I’ve wanted to be in ER for so long,” Jenny said. “It feels right. People say to me sometimes, ‘Why are you not freaking out?’ I like blood, crazy enough, and I actually like being with people in those scary moments.”
Her upbringing helped prepare her to be adaptable. Although she was born in Lulea, Sweden, her family moved to the U.S. in 2000, when she was 12, for her father’s job. At age 21 she enlisted in the military despite suffering knee injuries that almost prevented her from serving.
“I had such a drive to want to do that,” Jenny explained. “I had the feeling that I came to the U.S. and I wanted to be able to give back in some way to this country that I now call home.”
She decided not to reenlist when she began to have children. Even with her hands full as a new mom, she had nursing school in her sights. She stopped and started various programs as her husband’s job moved the family from state to state.
The right fit at Concordia
Finally, in 2019, she found Concordia University Ann Arbor with its generous military credit transfer policy and an environment that was appealing to Jenny.
“I think just being older and having kids, I knew I needed a smaller school experience,” Jenny said. “I wanted a Christian school and I was looking for more of a family feel, which is what I got at Concordia. I’m leaving Concordia with lifelong friendships, not just with classmates but my teachers as well.”
Jenny gives a lot of credit to her Concordia professors for helping her make it to commencement. She recalled a time in Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Kathleen Sheehan’s office when she was on the verge of quitting because her life circumstances were starting to overwhelm her.
“I remember sitting in her office and she consoled me and encouraged me,” Jenny said. “All my professors were so compassionate.”
Their support especially came into play when Jenny was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that attacked her eyes and caused significant vision loss for about five months.
“The teachers really helped me out and accommodated me during that time,” Jenny said. “They helped me out in a way where they didn’t make the material easier for me necessarily, but they helped me out in a way to where I didn’t have to quit school.”
From my kids to my parents to supportive teachers and friends, I had so much help. It does take a village, not just to raise a child but to help others out.Jenny Borgstrom (BSN ’23)
Atypical study buddies
Another impressive support system: her children. During Jenny’s period of visual impairment, the kids would read their mom’s textbooks to her and help her study for exams.
When you’re a single mom of six, you sometimes have to get creative with managing your time and responsibilities. Jenny once turned slicing a cantaloupe into a practice session on how to pack wounds.
“The kids did it with me and we added tunneling and all these things and we’d practice my skills together,” Jenny said. “They thought it was hilarious.”
As a result, Jenny won’t be surprised if some of her children decide to pursue nursing as a career one day.
“They have definitely learned to inject medications as well as I have,” Jenny said with a laugh. “They’re better than most adults I know! We were able to create memories while going through the process of education together.”
Learning and growing together—it was all possible because of the support of many, Jenny said.
“From the kids to my parents to supportive teachers and friends, I had so much help,” she said. “It does take a village, not just to raise a child but to help others out. I didn’t get here alone. It was a lot of people who came together for me.”
The Ronald and Marvel Jones School of Nursing develops nurses ready to excel in today’s challenging health care context. As a CUAA nursing student, you will learn to care for people of all ages in both acute care settings and the community. Instructors and classroom experiences blend curricular rigor with a passion for care, a balance that develops you uniquely both to serve with professional excellence and to fulfill your sense of calling as you care and serve throughout your career.