Tim Cook, 39, of rural Menomonie, graduates Thursday with an associate degree in nursing from Chippewa Valley Technical College after spending nearly 15 years designing prototypes
By Alyssa Van Duyse, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Tim Cook was looking for a challenge after working in a career for nearly 15 years and deciding to go back to school.
After working in the industry with two bachelor’s degrees under his belt in design and prototyping, he had reached his limit and his potential, he said.
“Prototyping is limiting,” he said. “I didn’t feel like relocating, and I got sick of sitting behind a computer and not communicating with people. I fell out of love with it in general.”
He started thinking about going back to school. With his first child on the way, he wanted a career that would satisfy his personal goals, work with his family dynamics and benefit the community.
When he eventually chose to study nursing, his family breathed a collective sigh of relief. They agreed it was the best choice for him.
On Thursday, Cook, 39, will graduate from Chippewa Valley Technical College with an associate degree in nursing. He’s not the first in his family to choose this profession. He’s also not the first to take a winding path to find the right career.
The rural Menomonie man is following in the footsteps of many in his family who chose nursing. His grandmother, mother, aunts and wife, Nicole Cook, all are nurses. Nicole even took a career journey similar to her husband’s. She had the same design background as Tim and decided to return to school to get her nursing degree from CVTC about ten years ago.
Tim was her cheerleader. For the past few years, she has been his.
“My wife has been very patient,” he said. “She didn’t rush me along. I worked two to three to four jobs at a time for half the pay (of my previous job). We trust one another and respect each other quite a bit.”
Cook said he has the advantage of age.
“That’s the thing about growth and wisdom,” he said. “What’s going through your mind when you’re 20 is different than when you’re 40. You evolve and learn what’s most important in life. I can’t just think for myself or even my wife. We have a child we’re raising. Family just means that much more.”
Eric Johnson, CVTC nursing instructor, said he taught Cook in advanced clinical. Johnson said Cook’s transition from his previous career to nursing is impressive.
“Tim (Cook) has a very caring nature and a maturity that aids him in being a very compassionate nurse,” Johnson said. “He meets the patients where they are and helps to put them at ease with a professional and considerate approach.”
As soon as Cook passes his board exam, he will transition into a nursing role at Marshfield Medical Center in Eau Claire. He’s excited to start his second career, which he said is better suited for this chapter of his life.
“There are just so many pros,” he said. “But it wasn’t just the pay and the growth potential, for me it was recognizing … what would satisfy my personal goals. This is an occupation where I can really help.”