One graduating Joliet Junior College student has been working toward his associate degree since he was a freshman in high school. Kamil Tomaszek enrolled in JJC night courses while attending Romeoville High School during the day, making him the college’s first nursing student with such a schedule.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to be able to finish my degree quicker and begin working in the medical field sooner,” said Tomaszek.
Tomaszek, a first-generation college student, said he’s been passionate about the medical field since he was young. While taking classes as a high school freshman, he enrolled in his first JJC course, psychology. That would lead to a certified nurse assistant (CNA) certificate. He worked as a CNA Rosewood Care Center and AMITA Glen Oaks Hospital before turning to JJC’s nursing program . After finishing a few prerequisites, Tomaszek was accepted into the program the fall of his senior year of high school.
“It was definitely challenging to attend both high school and college at the same time. I had to make many sacrifices throughout the years such as missing high school activities and not having much time to spend hanging out with my friends,” said Tomaszek. “While many of my high school peers would attend school functions or spend time together, I would be at home studying for my upcoming exams or I would be at work.”
The 19 year-old found that balancing all his obligations was the hardest part.
“Learning how to stay organized on top of all nursing school assignments, clinical rotations, exams and seminars in addition to high school and my work schedule was difficult. However, once I had a routine made up, it became easier to stay ahead of all the assignments and studying,” added Tomaszek.
His commitment to that routine helped Tomaszek finish in the top four percent of his high school class and serve in National Honor Society. Tomaszek graduated from Romeoville High School in May 2018. Just one year later, he’ll earn his degree from JJC.
“It was refreshing having Kamil in clinical during this semester,” said Tomaszek’s clinical instructor, Julio Santiago. “He came prepared to clinical with a smile, willingness to learn, and demonstrated excellent skills as a student nurse. He demonstrated compassion, caring, and empathy with his patients,” said Santiago.
The nurses at his clinical site were blown away by Tomaszek’s knowledge.
“I had Kamil during his 48 hour preceptorship and the nursing staff at AMITA Presence St. Joseph Medical Center loved his enthusiasm, his knowledge and his ability to critically think,” said JJC nursing instructor Kathleen Wolz.
Tomaszek plans to work as a registered nurse (RN) in an intensive care unit (ICU) after he graduates. He also started working on his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) last fall through the JJC and Lewis University RN to BSN partnership. He is expected to earn his BSN in May 2020 and plans to continue his education from there.
“I could not have gotten to where I am today without such a fantastic nurse faculty to whom I must praise for teaching and advising me on my journey into the field of medicine,” Tomaszek said. “Without them I would not be as knowledgeable and motivated to pursue such an arduous but very rewarding career path. Additionally, I need to thank all my nursing peers who pushed me forward and gave me hope every step of the way.”
JJC Nursing Instructor Gina Hulbert said that Tomaszek is incredibly humble about his accomplishments. If it wasn’t for one of Tomaszek’s good friends, Hulbert wouldn’t have known how incredible his story was.
“I remember him sitting humbly while she spoke, not boasting about his successes in front of the other students. It was at that point I knew he would do great things for our profession and represent what being a nurse really means, to give selflessly to others and not expect anything in return. He truly is an inspiration for us all,” recalled Hulbert.
Even in his free time, Tomaszek can’t stay away from the medical field altogether. He said he enjoys watching TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Good Doctor”. Some of his other hobbies include cooking, baking, bike riding, swimming and hiking.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would not change anything. I am proud of my accomplishments and where I am in my career path today,” said Tomaszek.
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