The road to Brian Schaad’s nursing degree has been winding. But the many life experiences he’s had along the way have helped shape who he is, and helped him be a role model to fellow students.
“Most people in my program are 19 to 21,” said Brian, who is 34. “So in a lot of ways I’ve got an advantage. I’ve gone to school before, I’ve worked. This time I came back and I knew what I wanted to do.”
Brian’s parents are originally from Bakersfield, but he was born in Kenya while his parents were there as missionaries. After graduating from high school in Kenya in 1995, he went to college at University of Nevada, Reno and spent one year abroad studying in France. His plan was to major in international affairs and French, but he was offered a retail management position he couldn’t refuse. So he dropped out of college.
“After a year and a half, I realized I wasn’t into the whole office/corporate thing,” Brian said.
So he left his job to prepare for a sailing race around the world. But the race ended up being cancelled. Just as he was deciding to return to college, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 happened. He knew what he wanted to do next: join the Marines and serve his country.
Brian enlisted the following month and, after boot camp, served from January 2002 to January 2007. His service included a seven-month deployment to Iraq in 2006, where he worked on a helicopter crew that transported wounded soldiers.
“Most of our missions were low key. We were there for any need to evacuate people who were hurt or injured or sick to first aid stations in various parts of the country. We also helped with inserting troops for operations,” Brian said.
After he left the Marines, he came to Bakersfield to stay with his parents and figure out what to do next. He knew he enjoyed biology and human anatomy. Then he learned that CSUB offered a top-notch nursing program right here in Bakersfield.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever considered nursing before. But I had done enough things that I knew what I didn’t want to do. Being older, I wanted to make this degree count. It was time to start a career that I can stay with for a while. I felt nursing was a good option,” he said.
To make sure it was an area that interested him, Brian volunteered at Kern Medical Center as a research assistant on a study involving treatment of bronchiolitis in infants. The experience cemented his desire to enter the CSUB nursing program.
While at CSUB, Brian also worked at community flu shot clinics and on a project to spread awareness about preventing airborne illnesses and diseases. He is graduating with two degrees – a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Arts in French. With a 3.9 GPA, he has been honored as the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Nursing Department this year.
In two weeks, Brian and his fiancé Kristi, a local high school teacher, will get married. They then plan to move to Denver, where she will teach and he will work in health care.
Brian said his education at CSUB has absolutely met his expectations.
“It’s a good program. (CSUB has) better faculty-to-student ratios that give you more individualized attention. And if you want to do things out of class time, they are open to that. The quality of the faculty is very good. Overall, I think Cal State is a solid university,” he said.