UMSL College of Nursing alumnus Mark Heisohn, who works at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, hangs out with patient Jimmell Sims. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Don’t ever tell Mark Heisohn that you’re too old to learn something new.

At age 52, the father of three found himself unemployed when the Chrysler automotive factory in Fenton, Mo., closed its doors in 2008. He’d worked there for 25 years, starting as an hourly employee and working his way up to management.

While he received a nice severance package, he knew he needed to come up with Plan B.

“I had to figure out what I was going to do in my next life,” said Heisohn, who graduated from the University of Missouri–St. Louis in 1980 with a bachelor of science in business administration.

“Nursing had always been an itch,” he said.

He enrolled in the nursing program at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, graduating in 2012. His attention turned to UMSL after hearing a presentation on UMSL’s RN to BSN program from Christina Vanatta, senior academic adviser in the College of Nursing. This past August, Heisohn took home his second degree from UMSL.

“I did a lot better in school this time. I worked harder and got straight A’s. Plus, it’s amazing what a little maturity will do for you,” he said with a chuckle. “Starting over has been exciting. The real upside to all of this is that I’m using brain cells that I haven’t used in years.”

When he reflects on all he’s accomplished these past six years, he said, “there’s a lot of ‘wow’ factor.”

While Heisohn didn’t expect to have to begin a new career in his 50s he has no regrets or what ifs.

“If Chrysler had played all the way out I could be retired this December,” he said. “But I wouldn’t change a thing, I would do it again. I’ve had a lot of profound experiences and have been touched by so many people. It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve got my dream job and I’m absolutely living my dream.”

For nearly two years Heisohn has worked at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. That’s also where he had his clinical experience.

“I fell in love with it. I used to think I could never deal with sick kids because I’m a big softy, but I just absolutely fell in love with it,” he said.

Even on his off hours, Heisohn is doing for others. He’s been an ice hockey referee for nearly four decades, officiating at high school, college and minor pro league games.  Some of the kids he’s refereed have even gone on to play in the NHL.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with it and they keep letting me back, so that’s a good sign,” he said with a laugh.

Last month, he was inducted into the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame.

To read more about UMSL’s RN to BSN program click here.

The UMSL Experience

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez