Susanna Wagner

Susanna Wagner, Nursing alum '20
At the end of the day, what matters most to you? For Oakton Nursing alum Susanna Wagner '20, it's all about family, community and leading a balanced life.

Susanna initially earned an A.A. at Oakton before transferring to Northeastern Illinois University for a bachelor’s in health sciences. She later returned to Oakton as an adult student to complete her RN degree. She’s built a career helping those with eating disorders – rising to a leadership role in nursing administration. She plans to advance her working knowledge of nursing and healthcare management by returning to school in the future.

Holding nursing close to her heart
Susanna wears a heart and key necklace with the word “RN” engraved on it – a graduation gift from her older sister and best friend, who just so happens to be an RN as well.

“Wearing this necklace is an honor and carries a huge sense of pride for me. Even talking about it gets me choked up because it represents my journey to becoming a nurse: a journey that while challenging, was 100% worthwhile. To have received this incredible gift from my sister is a daily reminder of her steadfast support and encouragement throughout the program both of which were invaluable. Sitting here today, I am sincerely grateful not only to my sister and supportive network of friends, but also to all of the nursing faculty at Oakton College for helping make my dream of becoming an RN a reality.”

Debt-free path to a purposeful career
Susanna knew that she wanted to be debt-free going into her career as a nurse. With grit, she continued to work full time while paying her way through nursing school. Coming to Oakton afforded her the ability to pursue her nursing degree while also being mindful of her future financial goals.

“Being able to live with family while working and completing the nursing program allowed me the opportunity to not only pay for school without using loans, but also save money, which I later used to move out and live on my own. Having a financial plan prior to going back to school and being able to execute it while in the program was paramount to my financial success in the program and a huge relief for me. Honestly, if Oakton had an MSN program for nursing, I’d gladly come back and study here again!”

Answering a calling to serve the community
Susanna is someone who takes initiative; always striving to help wherever there is a need. She is ever-motivated to learn and grow as a person, which coupled with her healthcare knowledge enables her to actively contribute to the betterment of others.

“I recognize it is important and healthy to separate yourself from your work when it comes to finding that work life balance. However, I have come to find that I can maintain a work/life balance while still holding true to my values and sense of duty to help others by using my platform as a nurse. Honestly, even before I had my nursing license, I knew nursing ran in my veins: medicine and helping others is part of my identity. When I am not at work, I often find myself stepping in to help those in the community who need assistance be it an elderly woman at the grocery store or a person stranded on the side of the road. I recognize that not everyone will feel comfortable to step up when they see a person in need; however, given my nursing background and heart for helping others, I routinely ask myself, “If I see a need and can help, why not be that person for someone else?” Being an RN adds another layer because when I share that with those I help, I can tell they feel more at ease with me knowing I have the tools and expertise to help and am going to do my best to do right by them. As a practicing RN, I take pride in the work I do and am beyond grateful that I get to be wholly me both in and out of the workplace. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Susanna Wagner wanted to take a moment to thank the Oakton Educational Foundation for making it possible for her to partner with the Than-Sun and Ron-Mei Yang Memorial Fund Scholarship and the Marilou Wasseluk Memorial Scholarship funds of which she was a recipient during her nursing studies.