25941119183_fb258e3b21_oBernice DuBois’s dream of returning to her reservation and giving back to her community is finally coming true thanks to hard work, determination and Winona State University.

DuBois will receive her Doctorate in Nursing Practice May 6 at the WSU Commencement ceremony, and plans to return to her hometown reservation in White Shield, N.D., as a family nurse practitioner after graduation.

A first-generation student, DuBois longed to return to the community in which she grew up and provide care for a population that is traditionally underserved.

“The course work has prepared and equipped me with the knowledge and tools for this endeavor,” DuBois said. “I was connected to clinical sites that have given me knowledge pertinent to caring for patients from birth to end of life and specific to populations that are underserved.”

At her clinical site in Minneapolis, DuBois worked on an evidence-based project to help identify and provide early intervention for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – a major problem in the Native American community.

While pursuing her education, DuBois worked full-time as a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic and somehow found the time to raise three sons. She appreciated the convenience and flexibility of the graduate nursing program at WSU-Rochester, as well as its dedication to students.

“I can’t say enough about the support of the graduate nursing faculty and all they have done for me during my WSU experience,” said DuBois. “From Sara Bass and Carolyn Ryno keeping us on track in our program, to all the amazing instructors and mentors that have guided us in our journey.”

Not surprisingly, DuBois’s favorite part of the WSU experience has been the people.

“The most important thing WSU taught me is to not be hesitant, to reach out and make connections with other people,” DuBois said. “It is invaluable to know your resources and create healthy, meaningful relationships to pursue further education and to reach common goals.”

One professor who has particularly inspired her is Jane Foote. DuBois said Foote provided mentorship many times throughout her education that gave her hope when things were looking bleak.

“She educated me in leadership skills and how to be a positive role model to raise people up to form purposeful and successful teams. Jane Foote is an amazing role model who is kind and humble with a generous nature,” DuBois said.

DuBois said she looks forward to graduation and returning to her hometown.

“I feel the graduate program for nursing has prepared me for the next part of my journey. I feel they cared for me as a person, not just a student,” DuBois said. “I would recommend any person considering a graduate program to WSU.”