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Employee Spotlight: Griselda Calderon, Senior Admissions Coordinator

Most people who have gone to college and received their degrees say “goodbye” to the hallowed halls forever. Griselda Calderon, senior admissions coordinator in nursing at Northwestern College, is an exception.

Calderon was an adult student who didn’t return to college until she was 30. She graduated from Northwestern College with a degree in paralegal studies. “I wasn’t successful at the community colleges because it’s just like you’re in an empty hole. Here, it’s a little more one-on-one,” she says. She went on to complete her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Roosevelt University. After accepting a temporary paralegal job, she soon realized it wasn’t what she wanted in a career. “I had to sit back and evaluate what I really wanted.” She turned to her alma mater, where she always felt that she mattered. “I looked online,” she says. “I saw they (Northwestern College) were hiring in admissions, and I’ve been here ever since.”

That was seven years ago. Today, Griselda Calderon helps future Northwestern College students choose the college program that is best for them – something she can relate to. “I came in not knowing at all what I wanted to do,” she admits. “I definitely get it, so I try to help them deal with it.” That requires considerable preparation.

How she “qualifies” students

Some students come to Northwestern College directly after high school graduation. Many are adults looking for a career change or a first-time college experience. “I understand where they’re coming from – the fears behind it and the unknown,” she continues, “so I try to make sure they’re going into it with their eyes wide open.” Calderon asks a lot of questions to make sure she points them in the right direction. “I really go over the experience because the medical field is not something that you just jump into. I try to ask enough questions – their passions, their likes, their dislikes. You can’t say, ‘Oh, I don’t like blood,’ and they’re in nursing.” The main question she asks is why they want to go into nursing. “If I get, ‘I’m doing it for the money,’ then those are the people I’ll probably talk out of it. If you’re only going into nursing for the money, then that’s not the reason to go into nursing – or any field.”

Facing challenges

“I think the biggest challenge I have is that I can’t split myself into two to help more people,” she says. Her challenge with students is unexpected. “The biggest challenge is when a student comes in and doesn’t have enough experience with other colleges out there and doesn’t know the gem that they walked into. I strongly believe in this institution.”

What she loves most about her job

Calderon’s enthusiasm for the students and her job is evident. What she likes most is attending graduation. “Knowing these students that I get to work with from the beginning and seeing them graduate is the highlight for me.” It assures her that the students did get on the right track. “Success for me is really big. To see them finish – I enjoy that.”

An open-door policy extending beyond graduation

Calderon likes following students throughout their studies and even after graduation. Her door is always open – and they always walk in. “I’ve had them crying in my office. I’ve had them happy in my office. I encourage them to call me because I really do care,” she says. I try to walk around the building to see if I see them and ask, ‘How was your clinical? How was your exam?’ If she discovers a student she previously worked with accepted a job, she likes to phone and congratulate them. Calderon also encourages former students to reach out after graduation.

The Northwestern College difference

What separates us from everybody else is that it’s pretty simply laid out,” Calderon says. At other schools, being accepted into – and completing – a nursing program can take a long time. At Northwestern College, it’s a quicker process. “They cut out everything that’s not necessary. If you’re doing nursing or radiography, it’s specific to that core program.” The Violet L. Schumacher School of Nursing at Northwestern College offers a complete career-focused program that students can complete in as few as two years. Once they successfully complete the program, they earn an Associate in Applied Science degree that puts them on the fast track to a career as a registered nurse.

In addition, Calderon says, “The community is a lot smaller, and you get that ‘you-want-to-go-where-everybody-knows-your-name’ feel.”

“I enjoy all the different people that I meet every single day. It’s never a dull moment,” Calderon says. “I want to be everywhere. I want to do everything. I really believe in education and what we do here.” Griselda Calderon is the kind of admissions coordinator you want to have in your corner.

If you’re interested in a nursing or radiography career, contact Northwestern College today.