53-year-old Veteran graduates Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program

Tim Mander thought he knew everything when he dropped out of school in eighth grade. He fathered his first child just a few years later, and honorably served his country as part of the United States Air Force. He never dreamed the second half of his life would begin back in a classroom.

Tim’s younger years were spent all over the United States. He worked construction, owned a few different businesses and learned many life lessons. By his 53rd birthday, he had married and divorced six times, a journey he described as “a desire to find the 61 years of love and marriage my parents had.”  Years of hard labor in the construction business were taking a toll on his body, so after spending his life savings caring for his terminally ill father, Tim knew his life and career needed re-direction.

“I came back to Oklahoma, took a Certified Nurse Aide class and applied to the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program at Metro Tech. I was accepted as an alternate and by fate, I got in,” Tim said.

Being out of school for more than 40 years with only a military GED and no typing or computer skills, he knew nursing school would be a challenge. Thankfully, he explained, there was a woman at Metro Tech who saved him.

“Keely Richards in the library at Health Career Center (HCC) is the one students turn to. She is a mother to everyone who walks through the door, and makes life easier, even when it’s tough. So many people make Metro Tech great, but Keely deserves her own recognition,” he smiled.

Tim worked as a CNA until he graduated from the LPN program at Metro Tech, and then continued his education at Rose State College, graduating from the Registered Nurse (RN) program with a 3.89 grade point average. The only challenge that came with being the oldest person in his class was feeling wiser than everyone else, he said with a smirk.

“You have to show up and act interested, and the rest falls into place. It’s really that simple.”

Now 60-years-old, Tim works 60-hour weeks at Midwest Regional Medical Center. Although medical surgery is a challenging floor, it’s great training for a new nurse. And taking care of patients, even on trying days, comes with great reward, according to Tim.

“Nursing is a respected profession that carries great responsibility. Patients are completely vulnerable to whose hands they fall into so it’s important to take good care of them.”

Though people assume Tim is at the end of his career, he respectfully disagrees.

“It’s just the beginning for me. I want to eventually move to Ecuador and teach in a nursing school. With a 16-year-old son at home, sitting idle on the porch is not part of my retirement plan. I have lived a lot of life, and have much more to go.”