Sixty-five years after graduating from the Milwaukee County General Hospital School of Nursing, Sharon Paczkowski ’58 got to pass the torch onto her granddaughter, Eva Gretz ’23, when she placed the nursing pin on her granddaughter at the MSOE School of Nursing Achievement Ceremony for the Winter 2022-23 graduating class on Feb. 24.

The School of Nursing Achievement Ceremony celebrates nursing graduates’ achievements with family, friends and faculty before they walk across the graduation stage. Graduates are able to invite a family member to place their pins on them during the ceremony, which was extra special for Gretz who asked her grandma.

“I’m very thankful that my grandma was able to participate in the pinning ceremony. It means so much to me to have a fellow nurse do my pinning for me,” said Gretz.

Paczkowski’s career included working as a nurse at a VA hospital on a paraplegic ward, a tuberculosis sanitarium, emergency room, OB department and as an industrial nurse. She eventually went back to school to get her business degree and proceeded to manage a home health agency. She ultimately worked as a nurse consultant with the state of Wisconsin monitoring home health and hospice in rural health clinics for compliance of state and federal laws.

Gretz reminisced on the stories her grandma shared with her and was inspired by the diversity of her career path. “Growing up she shared stories of when she was a home health nurse and how she had the opportunity to travel all around and help people from their homes. She was able to educate me about how the nursing field is not limited to bed-side positions,” said Gretz.

Through the clinical experiences at MSOE, Gretz got a first-hand look at the multitude of nursing career paths. “Having these opportunities made it easier for me to understand which field of nursing I would fit best in.” These experiences helped guide her to accepting a position in the Cardiac Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Wisconsin. “I look forward to gaining a variety of skills as a new grad nurse to help me become a great nurse one day.”

Gretz completed the Accelerated Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This program is designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree. The compressed, year-round curriculum enables students to enter the workforce as professional nurses in approximately 16 months. She entered the program with a B.S. in Biology from UW-Madison and was intrigued by MSOE’s fast-track nursing program. “Nursing is the perfect combination of understanding the science of the human body while also helping people during some of the most vulnerable times of their lives.”

Through the challenges of the fast-paced program, Gretz kept her grandma’s wise words in the back of her head. “My grandma always told me to live in the present, not the past. Nursing school is extremely challenging, especially in an accelerated program. There were difficult times throughout the program, but her encouragement and words of wisdom helped me remember to keep going and to not dwell on past challenges.”