Jordan Wieneke (’24) is following in her mother’s footsteps, even if they don’t eventually lead to a helicopter.

This story highlights one of Concordia’s uncommon December 2023 graduates. Faculty and staff submit candidates for consideration. Stories are posted in the days leading up to commencement. View more uncommon graduates here.

Aren’t nurses amazing? They do so many different things, and fill so many important roles in helping us stay healthy, comforting us when times are trying, and being available in times of crisis.

Sometimes they even show up in a helicopter when someone’s life is on the line.

That’s what Jordan Wieneke’s mom, Wendy Wieneke, has done for more than 10 years as a survival flight nurse for the University of Michigan Medical Center. It’s part of what inspired Jordan to go into nursing. As a “Covid graduate” (she finished high school in 2020), she was also inspired by seeing nurses and other healthcare professionals step up so much during the pandemic.

“I remember it clear as day,” she said. “We were watching the news, and they were showing all these nurses and patients, and everyone just looked so tired. I thought to myself, ‘I just want to help.’”

An easy choice

Given that her mom works for such a prestigious healthcare facility, you might think that Jordan would have aspired to go to school there. But that was never really the case.

“I didn’t really know where I wanted to go to school,” she explained. “A lot of people around here would say U of M was their dream school, but I never really had one of those.”

It was a friend of the family, CUAA athletic recruiter and assistant football coach Chance Childers, that got her thinking about Concordia.

“He was like, ‘We have a really great nursing program … we just put together a new simulation center … we have a beautiful campus in Ann Arbor … and a new North Building.’

“So I went there and visited in November of my senior year,” Jordan recalled. “I loved everything about it. The professors were great. I liked the feel of it. It was small, but there were a lot of great opportunities. It was all brand new and it was beautiful!”

It also mattered that it was a Christ-centered, Lutheran university. Jordan’s family has deep Lutheran roots: she attended Lutheran schools all her life and her grandfather and great-grandfather were both Lutheran pastors. “So I knew it be a good choice for me that way, as well.”

A spirit of giving

Since she became a Cardinal, Jordan has taken full advantage of many of the opportunities the Nursing program offers. She is part of the Student Collaboration Committee, which helps facilitate relationships between students and faculty. As vice president of the Student Nurses’ Association on campus, she helps plan and coordinate Nursing events, such as the annual Nursing pinning ceremony, as well as various service projects throughout the semester. One highlight, she said, was a blanket drive they staged last year.

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go,” she recalled. “We had about a week-and-a-half to accept donations. We had an area set aside to put the blankets, and the pile just kept growing, and growing, and growing! We couldn’t believe it.”

The blankets were given to a Detroit street outreach program run by a former Concordia Nursing student.

“To be able to donate an entire van-full of blankets, it just really showed me how important things like this are,” Jordan said. “And also how accessible it can be. That is, sometimes people don’t realize how much stuff that have to donate until you ask them! Even my own family, we found six or seven lightly used blankets in the basement that we never use and were happy to donate.”

Academic achievement

In addition to being eager to give back, Jordan also excels as a student. She’ll be graduating Magna Cum Laude and credits professors like Dr. Natalie McHugh for helping her get there. The two clicked right from the start: McHugh is the faculty member who led that tour Jordan took during her senior year in high school.

“She likes to joke that she was the cheerleader for the School of Nursing, because she was always so excited and enthusiastic,” Jordan said. “At school, she taught two of my classes, but she was more than just a professor. She was a great resource for all things nursing, but also non-nursing, even outside of class.”

As highly as Jordan thinks of her mentor, McHugh just might think even more highly of Jordan.

“I absolutely love Jordan!” McHugh raved. “I still remember meeting with her when she was just a high school student on a tour. Her mom is a legend on the U of M survival flight nursing team, and I remember thinking, ‘The pressure is on—I need to convince her to come here!’”

Whatever McHugh said, it worked. And she has not doubt that Jordan will be successful in whatever Nursing field she chooses to pursue.

“She is a student who is smart, and driven, and will no doubt create great, positive change in the world,” she said. “She embodies all the values of Concordia Nursing: she is always on time, proficient in her skills, rooted in her faith, curious and always wanting to learn more—the kind of student who would have been successful wherever she went. Concordia is lucky that she chose us.”

Jordan feels blessed, as well.

“I’m just really thankful for my time at Concordia,” she said. “It changed my life. And I don’t think that’s unique to me; that feeling is widespread.”

It’s a feeling she’s confident will one day be shared by her younger sister, Maddie, a CUAA freshman who studies Sport and Entertainment Business and plays on the Cardinal softball team.

Well on her way

As for her future, Jordan has already secured a position at the CS Mott Children’s Hospital at (you guessed it) the University of Michigan. “It’s the number one children’s hospital in Michigan!” Jordan is excited to report.

She won’t be working with her mom, exactly—and isn’t sure if being a survival flight nurse is a path she wants to pursue. It’s a long road, with a lot of different skills and experiences necessary to qualify. But she’s not ruling it out, either.

“Nursing is a very versatile field, with a lot of different options,” she said. “And there’s a real need right now; we need nurses in the country really, really badly. So I’m just excited and ready to get in there and start making a difference, and see where God leads me.”

Wherever that is, on the ground or in the air, she’s off to a flying start so far.

Want in?

The Ronald and Marvel Jones School of Nursing at CUAA develops nurses ready to excel in today’s challenging healthcare 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.