Rebekah Olson has always known that she would someday pursue a degree in nursing. The inspiration for her future career began through her relationship with her cousin, Elise.

Olson, 18, of Charlotte, Mich., and Elise were born within months of one another. It was when the girls were just a couple years old that Elise was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare and potentially fatal form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy.

“For me, it was a learning experience when Elise would have episodes. I would have to stay calm even though I didn’t always know what to do,” said Olson, a freshman at Concordia University Ann Arbor. "There were occasions when our parents or grandparents would be out and something would go wrong. I would have to remain calm and do what I could for her without freaking out.”


Olson transferred to Concordia in the spring semester of her freshman year in response to the launch of CUAA’s School of Nursing, but found the school offered more than just her preferred academic program.

“There is so much that goes into transferring that most people don’t know about. I can’t even begin to explain how helpful Concordia’s transfer admission counselor, Kristen, was to me,” said Olson. “I wanted a place where I can be close and personal to people, where people know my name. I’m just a few weeks in here and it’s already been that way.”

Olson’s father, who is a pastor at First Lutheran Church in Charlotte, Mich., and her mother, a former oncology nurse and another of Olson’s inspirations, were also pleased with Olson’s decision to transfer.

“I am thrilled that Concordia now offers a degree in nursing,” said Rev. Tim Olson, who has been a pastor in the LCMS Michigan District for 21 years. “Rebekah has the opportunity to pursue her vocation in a learning environment that is joyful and offers genuine love and concern for students. I’m excited and fascinated by all that Concordia is doing.”

At Concordia, Olson said she feels she can hone necessary nursing skills, such as compassion.

“Administering medicine is one thing,” said Olson, “but taking time to listen to your patients and hear what they’re saying allows you to figure out what’s really wrong so that you can help them best.”

Olson says she can’t wait to be a nurse because, not only will she be able to utilize her God-given strengths and abilities, she will also be able to share her faith through her actions and by loving her patients.

“I know that I will be able to help people in some of their worst times, and that might even mean taking their hands and just reassuring them that everything will be okay.”

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