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Olivia Dernbach

Olivia Durnbach and her son pose for a portrait in a room in the CDLC

Olivia Dernbach

Title: Current STLCC Student

STLCC Program: Nursing in Fall 2024

Years Attended: 2023–Present

When faced with medical emergencies and trauma, Olivia took note of how medical professionals supported her and her loved ones. It inspired her to pursue nursing at STLCC, just one of several medical career paths students can pursue in our new Transformed facilities.

Q&A with Olivia

Q: What are you studying at St. Louis Community College?

A: I am currently taking my prerequisites to start the nursing program in August 2024. I will graduate from the program in May 2025.

Q: How did your life journey lead you to where you are today?

A: A few years ago, my father became terminally ill with cancer—I spent many months in the hospital by his side until he passed away. My father’s death opened my eyes to the importance of medical professionals and the role that they play, not only for the patient but the patient's family. Two years later, when I had my twin daughters and they spent time in the NICU, it further solidified the significance of those in the medical field to me. I knew then that nursing was my passion and that I needed to be there for others like they had been there for me.

I started my prerequisites in 2016 but had to put schooling on hold during a separation from my daughters’ father in 2020. I was in a dark place, felt defeated and wanted to give up on my dreams and myself. Eventually, I decided to take back my life. It didn't happen overnight, and I had to put in a lot of work to achieve the healing I needed. I began working for Saint Louis University and then Washington University as a medical assistant, which reignited my desire to learn and grow as much as I could in the medical field. 

I married a wonderful man in 2022 and then had my son Sawyer (pictured) in May 2023. After his birth, I knew it was finally time to finish my education and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. Now, I’m here at STLCC and completing my first semester since returning to school. I couldn’t be more excited.

Q: How do you hope to “transform” the community as a nurse?

A: I want to help the community by genuinely caring, advocating for what's right and showing it's possible to follow your dreams and overcome any challenges life throws at you.

Q: What led you to take classes at STLCC?

A: A former coworker went through the nursing program at STLCC and highly recommended it. STLCC’s program is also much more affordable than other nursing schools in the area, which helped make my decision an easy one.

Q: How is STLCC supporting and preparing you for your next steps?

A: The Academic Success and Tutoring Center has been such a tremendous help. I would be lost without it. Everyone from my advisor to the financial aid department staff, has supported me throughout my transition back to school. Also, my journey wouldn't even be possible without the support of STLCC's Child Development Laboratory Center (CDLC).

Q: What are your thoughts on the new CDLC as a resource for students with children?

Sawyer is held by his mom on the Forest Park CNHS quad

A: The CDLC has been the biggest blessing! It's incredible that STLCC offers this for students and their children. Going back to school was a big decision— I wasn't sure how to manage childcare or work while taking classes, but the CDLC has made it all happen. My son goes to the CDLC while I'm in class. Having him right here on campus with me is such a relief and puts this momma's mind at ease.

I also work part-time for the CDLC, so I am able to be with my son while I'm at work as well. The center is brand new and beautiful. It's a welcoming, peaceful environment, and the staff puts their whole hearts into caring for the children. I also love that most of the children's parents are fellow STLCC students, so it's nice that we can all relate to one another on the hard work and dedication it takes to be a parent and student. It's a great support system!  

Q: How does Sawyer like the CDLC?

A: He loves the staff, and the staff loves him. It makes my heart so happy to see the care they show him. They also focus on his needs andgoals, working with him on developmental functions. They have water play, sensory activities, crafts and music time, and they are so gentle and patient with him. I couldn't ask for better childcare. Thank you to his incredible teachers—Ms. Bridgett and Ms. Grace!

Q: What is your favorite thing about attending STLCC?

A: I love how diverse and unique the College community is. I have met so many people from different walks of life, yet we all can relate to wanting to better our lives and futures through education.

Q: What would you say to students considering community college?

A: I say go for it! It is a cost-effective option and offers flexible scheduling to work within your needs. The CDLC at STLCC is also an excellent resource for those with children.


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