Alumna Profile: Bonnie Wesorick
Bonnie Wesorick ‘77, RN, MSN, FAAN, is a healthcare visionary. As the founder of the Clinical Practice Model Resource Center (CPMRC), based in Grand Rapids, she has developed structures for healthy and positive healthcare experiences. Her goal? To change the dynamics of healthcare institutions and create the best possible environment for providers and patients. She recently became a part of Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing with the creation of The Bonnie Wesorick Center for Health Care Transformation and has been honored with numerous awards. Aquinas College was her stepping stone to success.
Wesorick, a native of Grand Rapids, began her career in South Bend, Indiana at Holy Cross School of Nursing, graduating in 1964. She worked as a nurse in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids and continued her education by taking courses at community college. Eventually frustrated with the tone of her work environment, Wesorick felt called to teach. Commended by the director of the Butterworth Hospital School of Nursing, where she was employed at the time, she decided to pursue a Master’s in Nursing (MSN). “I attended Aquinas for the B.S. to get my Master’s,” she explained. “I came as an adult learner. I was already in practice, but I needed a Master’s to do the work I wanted in nursing.” Wesorick chose Aquinas College on her way to the MSN, receiving her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Chemistry in 1977.
Wesorick’s goal was to finish the B.S. in a “timely manner.” For her, “Aquinas was so flexible. I wouldn’t have been able to get into the Master’s program had it not been for the flexibility of the College.” In order for Wesorick to enter the MS program she wanted at Wayne State University, she had to fulfill her degree requirements quickly. “I had to be on campus for classes, but had a family,” she said describing the challenges she faced. “My fondest memory is support as independent student. It helped me get to where I needed to be to advance my leadership in nursing.”
Today Wesorick thanks two individuals in particular, Sr. Alice Wittenbach and Sr. Irene Chrusciel, for supporting her at Aquinas. “Because they cared, they were so willing to make it work for me,” she said.
Sr. Alice had only positive comments to say about Wesorick’s career and character. “She is a very generous, compassionate, caring woman, who has been able to develop her positive nursing practices because of her own sensitive nature and her great sense of collaboration […] in a highly complex nursing field,” she said. “[Bonnie is] a dear, special woman, and an outstanding graduate of Aquinas College.”
Reflecting on her time at Aquinas Wesorick said, “Aquinas was a higher form of education. I received a strong foundation in science there. Wayne State’s master’s program told me, ‘We know you come with a strong foundation in science from Aquinas.’ The B.S. allowed me to take on a leadership role in healthcare.”
For current and future students who want to achieve their visionary potential, Wesorick encourages genuine and committed involvement in study and community. “Engage with the students and faculty as much as you can so you learn from one another,” she said. Wesorick stressed the importance of making decisions true to oneself.
From experience Wesorick believes “There are unlimited possibilities so, as with all things, pick a career that speaks to your heart and have passion about it.” She said that studying hard is the key to “more opportunities and flexibility” in terms of future career. Remembering her early years as a nurse, Wesorick described Aquinas’ science program: “It’s a school that cares about its students. That makes a difference. You want nurses to experience strong science and have strong compassion.”
Having attended the inauguration of President Juan Olivarez, Ph.D., in the fall of 2011, Wesorick remarked that she was “impressed with the spirit of the students.”
“It’s a great school,” she said of Aquinas. “I love the culture. It’s a stimulating, accepting, advancing culture at the core of learning. You know people care about you and know what they’re talking about.”