‘She’s my cheerleader’: Mother-daughter bond helps BSN students Kristen and Clare Vogt flourish

Mother and daughter Kristin and Clare Vogt were caught in a rare moment of studying together. Though they are both College of Nursing BSN students, one is in the traditional and the other is in the accelerated program, which means they don't take the same classes. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Mother and daughter Kristin (at right) and Clare Vogt are caught in a rare moment of studying together. Though they are both College of Nursing BSN students, one is in the traditional and the other is in the accelerated program, which means they don’t take the same classes. (Photo by August Jennewein)

A book series inherited from her mother, Kristen, got Clare Vogt interested in nursing.

She’d grown up reading the Cherry Ames books, which follow the mystery-solving adventures of a fictional nurse set in the ’50s and ’60s. Clare’s love for the series, combined with a desire to do good, brought her to the University of Missouri–St. Louis College of Nursing.

Then Clare turned the tables on her mom.

“She actually signed me up for preview day,” Kristen recalled with a laugh. “She called me, she’s like, “Mom, I signed you up. You have to go to this thing.’”

Now, the mother and daughter are working on their BSN degrees simultaneously. Clare is almost through with the traditional program and expecting to graduate in December, and Kristen is two semesters into the 15-month accelerated program. Though their paths to UMSL diverge widely from one another, both have carved out new passions and aspirations thanks to their educations.

Clare transferred to UMSL for her sophomore year, drawn by the strength of the hospital system in St. Louis and the university’s proximity to her family.

In the midst of Clare’s decision, Kristen was pondering a transfer of her own. Recently finished with homeschooling her children, Kristen pondered returning to work in a field for which degrees in art history and ancient Greek sculpture didn’t apply.

“I had always known that at some point I really wanted to get full time back into a work environment,” Kristen said. “Nursing – it had always been on my radar. I’ve always been interested in medicine, in general. It’s a passion of mine. My equal passion was teaching. So, obviously, I did teach my kids. It was hard, but I did love it. I was really torn on what to do and which direction to go.”

She taught preschool for several years, but it was never financially lucrative, and her employer wanted Kristen to return to school for an education master’s.

“I told her, if you have to do that, you know, at least think about nursing,” Clare said. “I always had this idea that that was where she should have gone and didn’t.”

Kristen started taking prerequisites, but it was speaking to an admissions representative at the aforementioned College of Nursing preview that convinced her to take the leap. Though juggling family commitments while returning to school was an adjustment, the rewards have been worth it.

“There are always challenges, but I love school,” Kristen said. “She gets her love of school from me. We like being nerdy school students. Also, it’s nice to be able have medical conversations together. We’ve got a secret language going on. We can sit down and talk about all the problems in health care. There are lots; we will solve them.”

Thanks to a focus on undergraduate nursing research done under the guidance of Associate Professor of Nursing and PhD Program Director Roxanne Vandermause, Clare has already started on one problem. Researching factors that influence vaccine compliance and nurses’ roles, she’s presented at the Midwest Nursing Research Conference, the UMSL Undergraduate Research Symposium and at the College of Nursing Research Day.

Clare is now turning her focus to the role that organic lifestyles play in vaccine compliance.

“A lot of people perceive that vaccines because they’re injected and because they contain adjuvants, which is to say chemicals, are – they use the word – ‘unnatural,’ and that’s a key word,” she said. “We know scientifically, from the literature, that vaccines are safe. We know they’re effective. We can systematically debunk all of these myths surrounding them. But the problem is, when that’s tied down with the lifestyle factor, it’s very hard to change someone’s mind because it’s not really changing their mind. It is changing their instinctual emotional reaction.”

She considers working with Vandermause and their research as her most valuable UMSL experience. In second place is the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship, which Clare received for this semester.

The influence of those experiences has led Clare away from nursing. On track to finish her BSN in December, Clare hopes to continue on to medical school after graduation. She’s planning to work in pediatric critical care for a few years while finishing up prerequisites and studying for the MCAT exam.

Despite her medical school plans, Clare wouldn’t trade away her nursing experience.

“I think that it will make me a better doctor,” she said. “I think that the origin of medicine is the idea of laying on of hands: You’re touching a patient. You have a relationship with the patient. I think that that has very much found a home in nursing. I will take that portion of it with me.”

A passion for working with and helping children is something Clare shares with her mother.

Though she’s working on narrowing her scope during her remaining time in the College of Nursing, Kristen sees herself going into a field such as pediatrics, OB/GYN or labor and delivery.

“I have a certain amount of sympathy for the ladies there – and the babies,” she said. “I probably would not be here if I hadn’t had the encouragement of Clare and my husband. They really, truly encouraged me to do it. She’s my cheerleader.”

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