Years ago, Marie Stahl saw her future during National Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. As a front desk clerk at Denver Health, Stahl’s mother introduced her to life inside a hospital, and that made a positive impression on her to this day.
“I did a lot of shadowing growing up and just hanging out with my mom in the office,” Stahl says. “By the time I was in fifth grade, I knew that I was going to be a nurse. That’s all I wanted to do.”
Stahl notes that her mother was very enthusiastic about working in a hospital, and gradually moved up the administrative ladder.
“For the longest time, my mom just raised me, my sister, and my five brothers,” she says. “Then she got the job with Denver Health. It may not have been the position that she wanted, but she obtained her goal. It was very inspirational to me to see her progress from the patient information desk to a surgical coordinator working directly with physicians. I could see the passion in the way that she and the nurses interacted with people and took care of patients. I think that’s what intrigued me the most.”
While hanging out at the women’s clinic at Denver Health, Stahl recalls talking to one employee who was studying for her Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).
“I remember her telling me how stressful it was to get through the program, but also how much she wanted it and how much it meant to her,” Stahl says. “I asked her ‘if it’s so difficult, why do you do it?’ And she said, ‘it’s the skill, the practice and working with people. It’s being someone that patients can turn to.’”
Childhood and early education
Marie Stahl on Mount Democrat, the 29th highest peak in Colorado
Though Stahl felt the pull toward nursing at a young age, she didn’t exactly take a direct path to a nursing career. Her family moved all over the Front Range until the end of her freshman year in high school, when her mother bought a house in Aurora.
Later, Stahl attended Colorado State University, where she majored in sociology.
“It wasn’t until the beginning of my senior year (in college), when I started to ask myself ‘what am I going to do with a sociology degree?’ At that point, it was kind of too late, so I stuck with my major,” she says.
Through college, Stahl realized that her passion was in nursing, but she persevered with the sociology program.
“I was the first in my immediate family to actually attend college and graduate, so that was a big accomplishment – especially with my family being as big as it was,” Stahl says. “CSU didn’t have a nursing program, so I figured that if worse came to worse, I’d get my prerequisites to get into nursing school later – which is what I wanted to do.”
Getting to work and back to school
After graduating from CSU, Stahl moved back in with her mother and started working at a temporary agency. That segued into an eight-year career in human resources, including four years at Denver Health – which provided a transition to the University of Colorado College of Nursing, where she enrolled in the Traditional Pathway BSN Program.
“I worked at Denver Health for four years, onboarding and scheduling everyone from physicians to fourth-year medical students and helping with rotations in the emergency department,” she says. “I decided that my passion was in nursing, so I decided to go back to school. I did a year of prerequisites at Community College of Aurora and I applied at CU Nursing.”
Looking back, Stahl says the two-year experience at CU Nursing was “extremely positive.”
“I truly believe that this program has supported me where I needed to be clinically and educationally,” she says. “Nursing school is hard, but my instructors were always accessible, and CU Nursing lived up to its wonderful reputation.”
CU Global Health experience was ‘life-changing’
Earlier this year, Stahl joined members of her cohort in an immersive Global Health in Guatemala course, which she described as life-changing and a unique experience for CU students.
Stahl, who describes herself as bi-racial, says while she grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, she is by no means fluent in Spanish. Still, she was surprised to discover how easily she could converse in Spanish among the locals in Guatemala.
“When I went to Guatemala, it really showed me what I can do in terms of working in women’s health abroad and in local communities,” Stahl says. “I am trying to figure out how I can fulfill those aspirations and dreams, but I am super excited about it.”
Stahl, who learned in March that she will do her clinical immersion in labor and delivery at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, says she plans to apply for the Nurse-Midwifery program at CU Nursing next year.
Looking backwards and forwards
In retrospect, Stahl says the sociology degree wasn’t wasted on her. She regards it as one destination in a lifelong journey.
“When I think about the social determinants of health, I am reminded to meet people where they’re at,” she says. I think the experience in Guatemala brought that idea full-circle.”
Speaking of full circle, Stahl’s mother – who was the force behind her nursing journey – is absolutely ecstatic about her daughter’s career path.