Clinton Journal | Nurses abound from CHS Class of 2015

CLINTON — BILLIONhere must have been something in the hallways of Clinton High School a few years back that led to so many students to careers in healthcare.

The Clinton High School Class of 2015 with just over 100 graduates includes at least a dozen who went on to become nurses.

While their career paths came about via different routes, the common thread is their desire to help others.

The Clinton Journal interviewed nine of these nurses to find out what derived their career paths and what they are doing now.

Taylor Filkin, RN, BSN

Thanks to a program offered at Clinton High School that allows students to attend classes at the Bloomington Area Career Center (BACC), Taylor was able to earn her certified nursing assistant (CNA) degree.

“I knew by taking these classes while still in high school, it would help me decide early whether I wanted to pursue nursing,” said Taylor.

The ability to earn dual credits from Richland Community College (RCC) while still attending CHS was the incentive for Taylor to earn her registered nurse (RN) degree at Richland. She then completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree (BSN) from Chamberlain University.

“Right out of nursing school, I accepted an RN position at our local ER (Emergency Room) in Clinton – Warner Hospital,” said Taylor. “I’m still there today!”

Taylor said she knew she wanted to be a nurse from an early age.

“I loved the idea of ​​getting to take care of people and possibly making a difference in someone’s life.”

Becca Anderson, RN, BSN

A love of medicine and anatomy made Becca a great fit for a nursing career.

“I remember enjoying Mr. (John) Hickman’s anatomy class my junior year and feeling like the information was natural to learn,” said Becca. “That got me thinking about a career in healthcare. Thanks, Mr. Hickman!”

Becca said she was considering nursing in high school but had not made a final decision until she realized she had only submitted college applications to schools.

“So, I figured I should give nursing a shot!”

Becca attended Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington where she earned her BSN. Following graduation, she accepted a job on the blood cancer and surgical oncology unit at Swedish Medical Center in Denver, Colorado.

“I enjoy working in oncology,” she said. “It’s a very special opportunity to be a support person and understand the nuances of what the patients are going through.”

Michaela Elliott, RN, BSN

Growing up, Michaela had multiple surgeries and “always felt calm in those settings because of the nurses caring for me.”

Clinton High School prepared her well, Michaela said, with special thanks to Mr. (Jerry) Wayne, Mr. (Karl) Diener, and Mrs. (Denise) Hickman because “they encourage me as a student.”

Upon graduation from high school, Michaela was trying to choose between nursing and teaching. Though not completely sure why nursing won out, she now knows as a nurse you have many roles, “including being a teacher!”

Michaela earned her RN and BSN from the Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University and until recently had spent more than two years on the orthopedic/neurology unit at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington.

This month, Michaela begins a new adventure as a travel nurse.

Jacquelyn Shoufler, RN, BSN

Childhood memories brought Jackie into the nursing field.

“I wanted to go into nursing after watching all the nurses who cared for my grandpa John when he was sick with Alzheimer’s,” she said.

“I was very young, but I have never forgotten how great they were to me (and) his family. I hope I provide my patients and families with the same amount of love!”

Reflecting on her high school years, Jackie said she loved math with Mr. Wayne and admits she uses math “every day when administering medications.”

After CHS, Jackie attended Heartland Community College in Normal before transfer to Lakeview College of Nursing in Danville where she earned her RN and BSN degrees.

Currently, Jackie works in the emergency department of Carle Foundation Hospital’s Level One Trauma Center in Urbana. She is contemplating flight nursing in the future.

Payton Lee Bieber, RN, BSN

Payton comes from a family of nurses, including her mom, so the career “just seemed right.”

“I knew I wanted to help people,” she said, adding that a nursing career offers many options, avenues, and specialties.

Payton also took advantage of the BACC program and earned her CNA in high school. She said it offered her the nursing opportunity to gain “experience in the medical field before even starting school” by working in a family medicine practice while in high school.

After high school, Payton took pre-nursing courses at Parkland College in Champaign where she also played basketball on a scholarship.

With her associate in science degree in hand, she transferred to OSF Saint Francis College of Nursing in Peoria for her BSN.

Initially, Payton worked in the critical care unit at Carle Foundation Hospital before pursuing ICU travel nursing last year. To date, she has worked in the intensive care unit at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center and is currently working at a hospital in Homer, Alaska.

In between travel assignments, Payton helps out at Warner Hospital.

Whitney Siltman, RN

Whitney credits growing up with a sibling with an intellectual disability as piquing her interest in “the inner workings of human beings.” Her now 21-year-old brother “is an incredible human being and a key factor that shaped me into the person I am today.”

She also credits CHS teachers Kristin Marshall and Karl Diener for their motivation and encouragement. “Both of these teachers are passionate individuals who contributed greatly to my professional and personal development.”

Taking a more non-traditional path to nursing, Whitney attended Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in health education.

Whitney then accepted a position as a foster care caseworker with the Center for Youth and Family Solutions in Peoria.

“Many of the children on my caseload were medically specialized,” said Whitney. “I realized that many of the nursing interventions and services I was interested in providing to these children were more-based than social service-based.”

During this time, Whitney learned about an accelerated Masters Entry into Nursing Practice (MENP) program offered through Millikin University in Decatur. The program is designed for people with bachelors’ degrees who wish to pursue a career in nursing.

After graduation in August and taking her licensing exams, Whitney will have her MSN, RN, CNE (certified nurse educator).

Currently, Whitney is working as a healthcare technician in the ICU step-down unit at Carle BroMenn Regional Medical Center in Normal.

Kennedy Carson, RN, BSN

Enduring many surgeries as a child was the catalyst that made Kennedy consider nursing as a career.

“Healthcare and the human body were always so interesting to me,” she said.

The opportunity to earn her CNA wanted via the BACC program confirmed Kennedy to follow her passion for nursing.

“This program gave me a jump start on my nursing career and I feel very grateful for that,” she said. “I had an excellent experience.”

After high school, Kennedy began working as a CNA on the ortho/surgical unit at Carle BroMenn in Normal while also taking her nursing pre-requisites at Heartland College in Normal. She then moved to Orlando, Florida, and completed an accelerated nursing program at Herzing University.

The honor of being present when her sister gave birth to Kennedy’s niece helped her realize she wanted a career in labor and delivery.

Following graduation, Kennedy returned to central Illinois to pursue her dream job in the mother/baby unit at Carle BroMenn where she now works as a labor and delivery nurse.

Lexi Obermeyer, RN, BSN

While attending Clinton High School, Lexi knew she wanted to choose a career where she would be able to help people and have an impact on their lives.

“For me, that was nursing,” she said.

“I really loved learning anything related to science and everything about anatomy with Mr. Hickman,” and she credits all the teachers at CHS for being encouraging and supporting of her decision to pursue a nursing career.

After high school, Lexi headed south down US 51 to Decatur’s Millikin University to participate on the school’s track and field team while pursuing her nursing degree. At the same time, she worked as a patient care technician at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur.

Following graduation, Lexi began her nursing career in the orthopedic/neurology unit at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. In 2021 she moved to Knoxville, Tennessee where she worked in the trauma unit at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Today, Lexi works in a primary care practice in Knoxville where she is able to make connections with “each and every patient we see,” she said. “It means so much knowing we can make a difference in so many lives.”

Hayden Kaufman, RN

Even though he enjoyed science classes at CHS, Hayden never imagined he would choose a career in nursing.

Immediately after high school, Hayden earned his emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and began working for the ambulance service in Clinton. Soon thereafter, he started working in the department at Carle BroMenn.

As if working two jobs was not enough, Hayden began an accelerated nursing program (ADN) through Heartland Community College.

“Once I got into my career in EMS (emergency medical services), I knew I wanted to transfer my career into more critical areas within the hospital.

Today, Hayden works in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Carle BroMenn.

Leave a Comment