Ginger Turck

Veteran Marine Nurses a Dream

After a long journey, Ginger Turck graduates with a BSN on Saturday

Ginger Turck’s journey across the Weidner Center stage on Saturday, Dec. 14 for UW-Green Bay Commencement will be just like any other graduate. But few others have made more stops along the way.

This mother of three, Marine Corps veteran with a Business Administration degree (also from UW-Green Bay) already on her resume´—now earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)—may be the most traditional non-traditional student participating in the University’s 100th commencement ceremony, Saturday.

“She went through a long journey to be a BSN,” says Assistant Prof. of Nursing, Myunghee Jun. But Turck’s journey isn’t measured in miles—but in time and challenges.

Turck grew up a self-described “Tomboy” in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee, working in landscaping during the summers and began college 1995. She admits at the time she was more into volleyball than study hall. Originally attending college as a walk-on for the women’s volleyball team Turck soon realized “my heart wasn’t into college at this time which was reflected in my grades.”

“My parents said that if I was going to leave school, I would have to find something else to do.” So she enlisted in the Marines. “They say it was the hardest boot camp, so let’s see.” (Plus, only eight-percent of all active enlisted Marines are female, the lowest ratio in all of the U.S. military branches.) And the toughest part of boot camp? “Being away from home for three months and Parris Island sand fleas.”

It was later in field training when life handed her a lemon in the form of a hand-grenade. And this advice to anyone contemplating a similar experience—“Never throw a hand-grenade like a baseball.”

Turck was taught the correct over-the-shoulder technique, but kept throwing short of the target. “On my last try, I had an ‘I’m-going-to-show-you moment,’ so I launched it. Something didn’t feel right. I hit my target, but tore my shoulder.”

Ironically, it was that injury that would eventually lead her to nursing and her advocation to work in a VA clinic. Turck was separated from her reserve unit, which was activated and sent to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Enduring Freedom. She returned to Green Bay as an active reservist but saw her civilian prospects landing her back into landscaping. But her commanding officer offered a bit of advice. “My captain told me I should do something else besides digging dirt and suggested school.”

In 2006, Turck was medically separated from the Marine Corps and was sent to the Milwaukee VA for evaluation of her continuing shoulder/wrist problems. Her biggest problem? Being a woman in the VA healthcare system. “I would go into my appointment and staff would look at me and ask ‘Where’s the veteran? He needs to check in himself,’ seemingly confused as many said they had never treated a woman veteran before.”

With a second chance at college, now married (to a fellow Marine), Turck graduated from UW-Green Bay with a degree in Business Administration (Management and Finance) in 2008. And this time, she credits her professors with putting her “heart back into learning.”

This time odd timing was just bad timing—she hit the streets with a fresh degree and into the teeth of the great recession. Finding it impossible to find a job in banking in finance, she returned to landscaping and worked as a correctional officer, while trying to rehabilitate her shoulder and her career. The bottom may have been when she temporary job as took a brief job as a test examiner. “I knew I wanted more in life” she remembers.

Turck was accepted into Vocational Rehab through the VA, began nursing school at the Rasmussen College School of Nursing and graduated as a registered nurse (RN) in 2016. But fate was not finished throwing her curve balls. Her first nursing job was at an extended care facility that soon closed its doors.

“Nursing did not start out well” She admits. And this college graduate, Marine veteran, professional landscaping, correctional officer, long-term care facility nurse and mother of three needed a break—both emotionally and professionally. She was accepted into UW-Green Bay’s RN to BSN program, designed for associate degree registered nurses looking to advance their career. She decided not to work while in school, but still life beyond the classroom presented its own challenges.

“Shortly, after beginning classes my maternal grandma’s health began declining so I helped where I could, studied when I could as my mom, who had previously helped babysit, was spending her time at appointments and in hospitals with my grandma.” Her grandmother passed away on August 19, 2018, the same day as her late stepdad’s birthday and her wedding anniversary. Turck would also say good-bye to her paternal grandmother in 2019.

But true to her Marine spirit, Turck did not retreat. “In January 2019, I gave birth to our third son at 5 a.m. and much like the birth of my first child in 2014, I again was online to introduce myself for my next nursing class that also began that day.”

It was also time to make peace with VA through both a clinical placement during the summer 2019 semester, and as a patient at the Milo C. Huempfner Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, which neighbors the UW-Green Bay campus.

“Throughout my time at the Green Bay clinic I have never been overlooked as being the veteran, nor forgotten as a patient.”  Or a woman, for that matter. “When I went there for treatment for my shoulder, I had to bring my one-year-old  son with me. He was crying, so my doctor held him the whole time during my examination.”

And as for what future holds, Turck sees a life still filled with challenges, but perhaps fewer holes.

“With any hope, there will soon arise a chapter called Milo C. Huempfner VA Clinic nurse and veteran patient advocate Ginger Turck, RN, BSN.”

 

Server migration postponed

The previously communicated server migration that had been planned for over the weekend (Dec. 6-8, 2019) has been postponed due to complications. The scope of this project is large, encompassing the news.uwgb.edu site and all UW-Green Bay network blogs. Plans to re-attempt the migration will be forthcoming. The Marketing and University Communication Office and the Information Technology Web Development, Server and Network Administrator teams apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Common CAHSS 2019: Human Rights

Register in person for Common CAHSS

Online registration has closed for the Common CAHSS event taking place in the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019). Registration will be available in-person from 8:30 a.m. throughout the course of the day. Stop by the registration table.

Common CAHSS is organized by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. It is a day-long recognition marking the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Planned as an annual event, the inaugural Common CAHSS 2019: Human Rights features 30 activities involving creative engagement with human rights issues. These include discussions and presentations as well as art exhibits, musical and improv performances and more. The conference concludes with keynote speaker Rais Bhuiyan, founder of the non-profit “World Without Hate” at 6 p.m. in the Weidner Center. All activities are free and open to the public.

Commencement speaker, Prof. Patricia Terry, noted for ‘Iron-man worthy’ efforts on behalf of the University

Patricia TerryAs a tenured professor approaching her 25th year at UW-Green Bay, professor Patricia Terry describes herself as a “pinnacle person.” Which means, if you’re going to do something, take it all the way.

“If you’re going to run, run a marathon. Go to college? Get a Ph.D. Work at a university? Achieve the rank of full professor.”

She will bring her experience and wisdom to the stage on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 when she serves as the University’s commencement speaker.

Terry has done marathons one better by competing in Ironman triathlons—one of the world’s most difficult events—swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a full marathon. “They fire the starting gun at 7 a.m. and you have until midnight to finish.” She’s completed three. (Also managing to squeeze in two Boston Marathons, two fifty-mile races, and more than 30 other marathons or ultra-marathons along the way).

Her career in academia began even sooner, when her father once offered his “exalted” (her description) advice to his eight-year-old daughter.

“I asked him, ‘who teaches college?’ He said ‘college professors.’ Then he added ‘If you became a college professor, you’d be one of the most honored, revered and respected members of society.’”

“I bring that up to him every chance I get.”

And while her CV is a testament to her scholarly work-ethic with dozens of peer-reviewed published papers, research grants and co-authorship of Principles of Chemical Separations with Environmental Applications, published by Cambridge University Press, it’s her collaboration with faculty and students that has brought her the greatest pleasure.

“What I’m most passionate about was starting the engineering program and leading my faculty, facilitating student success.”

Terry also discovered she had a knack for growing things—from wildflowers to academic flowers. In 2009, one of her students suggested, as a thesis project, replacing the under-performing grass roof over the Instructional Services building with native plants. The student never finished, but true to her pinnacle person personality, Terry persisted. Today, she solely supports a fund to hire students for maintenance and to purchase plants. Over the past seven years, she has gifted the fund approximately $15,000.

Ultimately, Terry’s most sustainable contribution to the University is her Ironman-worthy efforts to the success of students, faculty and the university. She was instrumental in helping launch the new bachelor of science programs in Electrical, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering Technology, becoming director of the programs in 2012.

As far as a “pinnacle” to her academic career to this point, it may be her appointment as the inaugural Chair of the Resch School of Engineering. As the administrator overseeing the program, Terry helped set the curriculum and was in charge of faculty recruitment and mentoring, along with ensuring program accreditation.

Still, she remains a teacher of environmental engineering at heart. Or as she puts it—“Everything’s a chemical. We’re moving chemicals.” And as far as staying on the move goes, Terry confesses a general-education offering remains her favorite class to teach.

“I like teaching Energy and Society. I have to keep up with the news, that class changes every semester. It’s a moving content target.”

Story by Michael Shaw, Marketing and University Communication