A Lot of Hats – Busy Mom Juggles Nursing School, Family and Much More

Danica Kochis-Belleque didn’t expect to find herself to still be in school while in her 40’s to pursue a career in nursing. But that’s exactly what she’s doing.

Danica is currently a second year student at Lake Region State College in Devil’s Lake, ND. Originally, she graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder and earned her bachelors degree in Environmental Biology with a teaching certificate. It was there she met her husband who was in the Air Force, prompting her to move to numerous locations across the country. In Nebraska, Danica earned her masters degree.

After her husband retired from the Air Force in 2008, Danica and her family moved to Minneapolis where her husband entered seminary. While there, Danica taught for two years, but due to budget cuts, her contract was not renewed.

“That prompted me to look into the medical field,” says Kochis-Belleque. “I entered school and became a certified medical assistant and got a job in a family practice clinic. I did everything there from taking x-rays to lab work, injections – you name it, I probably did it.”

After her husband completed seminary in 2012, the family picked up and moved again to Devils Lake, ND.

“There wasn’t really a need for medical assistants – as they’re not as common here as they were in Minnesota. I wanted to take care of patients and be with them, which is why I then decided to go back to school for nursing.”

Danica says despite wearing the many hats she does (wife, mother, pastor’s wife, volleyball coach and more), she says school has always come fairly easy for her, which has allowed her to pursue her career in nursing.

“Going back to school still requires a lot of discipline and time management. I’m fortunate that my husband works and that I’m not having to work in addition to my other activities such as managing our house and three kids. But this journey has required me to be diligent in my studies and making school my priority. My husband and kids have been incredibly supportive. As a military family, we’ve had to learn how to make it work wherever we are and how to get the job done and that plays an important role in how we’re making this journey work.”

Danica’s advice to those who are thinking of going back to school like her, is to simply make it work.

“Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. Perhaps for some, going back to school means taking out loans or doing without the new car they had hoped for. I have many classmates that work and I feel for them. Just be prepared to be diligent and ready to give your life to it. I know my kids are looking forward to graduation simply to have their mom back. To put it simply, going back to school is a lot like getting pregnant, there’s no convenient time for it. So if you’re thinking of going back to school, you might as well do it now.”

Danica notes that her life experiences have played a vital role in aiding her in her studies.

“My focus is better. I also have higher expectations of myself than I had at 20 because of my life experience. Life had stuff to teach me that I couldn’t have learned in a classroom. That will make me a better nurse – growing up, having kids, all of those experiences.”

Upon graduation, Danica will be precepting in the local hospital’s OB department. She also hopes to be cross trained in almost every department to keep her job ever changing.

“I think I’d like to continue to wear a lot of hats because I enjoy the intellectual stimulation. I can completely see myself getting into flight nursing because I’m the adventure seeker in the family. And I’m open as to wherever the path will lead.”


Printed with Permission

Kyle Martin

Associate Director

ND Center for Nursing

Mobile: 701-388-0574