Cheryl Nold

During my freshman year at Republic High School, I filled out a career questionnaire, the kind that helps you determine what your future career might look like based on the answers you give.

words + photographs Cheryl Nold

The result – nursing – was puzzling. It wasn’t on my radar or in my sights. I just wanted to finish high school, get married and be a mom. That’s it.

However, life didn’t happen quite that way.

Top Seventeen-year-old Cheryl and baby Ethan. Bottom Cheryl with Justin and their baby Ethan.

My son, Ethan, was born when I was 17, which was life-changing enough. Then I graduated high school. Five years later, my daughter, Addison, was born. I married my high school sweetheart, Justin, eight months after that.

I have always wanted to be a mom, and I wanted to be the best for these two babies. I found the perfect job for a stay-at-home mom as a preschool teacher at a local church.

During the last 19 years, I was a carpool mom, sports mom and PTO mom at the kids’ school. I wore and embraced every role a mom could possibly come across. I lived for my kids. If they needed something, it was provided. I couldn’t have been happier, but I always had a feeling I was missing out on something amazing.

Top Cheryl with her husband, Justin, and their daughter and son: Addison and Ethan. Bottom Cheryl preparing for nursing school while working at a local hospital.

When Ethan was a high school freshman, he filled out the very same career questionnaire. Based on his results, he set his sights on sports medicine – and nursing. I told him what my results had been when I answered those questions years ago.

“You can still be a nurse,” he said.

I laughed it off, thinking I’m too old to go back to school. His words, though, never left my mind. A spark was lit that caused an internal conflict to burn. Was I really considering changing everything I was comfortable with? I loved teaching. I loved being off on holidays. I loved being able to see my kids after school.

Though it was scary, the decision was made.

Besides that, I was good at my job. I was competent. Did I really want to start over in the middle of my life at square one with a new career? As I was praying and reflecting on my life’s motivations and values, I came across a quote by Fred DeVito: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” This was my aha moment. I decided it wasn’t enough to just be comfortable – I wanted to be challenged

Though it was scary, the decision was made. I would get the ball rolling on nursing school, taking it one step at a time. Before I knew it, I was taking night classes.

I stopped teaching.
I took a job at a local hospital
And I have applied for nursing school.

The day I put in my two weeks’ notice at the preschool was a huge weight off my shoulders. I was sad because I knew I would miss the kids and my co-workers. But I had joy and peace I couldn’t explain.

Watching that young man, who calls me “Mom,” pursue his future career inspired me to pursue mine. He has been my cheerleader every step of the way. I hit restart on my life, and I couldn’t be happier.

Cheryl with her son, Ethan, at his high school graduation in 2020.

Working at the hospital for a year now, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. There is an overwhelming satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference in someone else’s life. Every step of the way, even through a pandemic, I have felt peace and satisfaction that I have made the right decision.

Reading my story might have touched a chord with you. Is there a start button in front of you? Has a spark been lit within you? My encouragement for you is to let that flame burn and press that button. CN

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