Featured Alumna - September 2023

Sheila Nelson '95 Sanders
I was enrolled in the SCCS system from kindergarten through my senior year of high school.  Mrs. Triemstra was my kindergarten teacher, and she was my children's kindergarten teacher too!  I loved the science classes at CCHS and bonded with Mr. Kroon.  We always celebrated Mole Day, and he taught me so much about his love of chemistry.  I even minored in Chemistry in college!  I married Clinton in 1999.  We have 2 children, both of whom went through SCCS from kindergarten through high school.  Ryne graduated in 2019 and Sophia graduated in 2020.

After graduating from Chicago Christian in 1995, I went to Valparaiso University to obtain my BSN.  I started working at Rush University Medical Center and was employed there for a total of 24 years.  I worked as a floor nurse on the orthopaedic unit, supported the anesthesia team in post-op pain management, and started two separate orthopaedic practices.  I assisted in minimally invasive surgery protocols and was part of the first ever hip replacement AND knee replacement to be discharged from the hospital the same day of surgery.  I was able to build relationships and create mentors with multiple medical professionals, most of whom were surgeons.  I became a resource for the department of orthopaedic surgery and developed a robust patient education program.  Patients and their family members came to a pre-op teaching class in order to prepare themselves for surgery.  

Later, I obtained my MSN, with a concentration on clinical nursing education, from Liberty University.  I found a love of learning, teaching, and growing throughout my career.  Just before I finished my Master's degree, my husband was catastrophically injured in a house fire (he is now retired, but was a firefighter/paramedic).  The school system supported us with love and prayers and helped guide the redheads, our two children, through their remaining time in high school.

Since our lives were turned upside down, we were given a new perspective.  I decided to leave my beloved position at RUSH, and I joined Oak Street Health.  This is a company that services the underprivileged Medicare population.  They have 177 clinics throughout the United States, and I joined their company as part of the expansion team.  I was able to travel to the new clinic openings and teach the medical assistants and nurses about basic roles and how to treat people and ensure competency in the field.  After working in that role for 10 months, I accepted a position as Director of Clinical Support for Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska!  Since this is a field-based position, I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  By myself.  With a leap of faith.  I continue to uphold the standards of Oak Street Health, living by their mission statement.  The part of their mission statement that resonates with me the most is "assuming good intentions".  As humans, that can be a hard thing to do, but with constant reminders, we can restore the good in the world.  

Growing and learning through everyone at Chicago Christian High School continued to reinforce that God has always had a plan for me and my family.  It reinforced that change is scary and that tragic blessings can be integral to spiritual growth.  It is still amazing for me to know that God had my WHOLE life planned for me, including every single challenge and celebration.  What a blessing it has been to take comfort in being part of a Christian community.  

I am currently living in Albuquerque by myself.  My husband will come out in Spring 2024, after Sophia graduates college.  Ryne is living in Greenville, South Carolina, and is working as an accountant, employed by an accounting firm.  Sophia will graduate with her BSN in May.