Tyroner lost her job, but is now living a dream

Sometimes being the “low man” on the totem pole is the best place to be. Ask Tyrone’s Sheila Fink.
In 2001, Sheila was happily working at the electronics maker and assembler Murata Electronics in State College. She just transferred from one department to another. She was making pretty good money.
“I thought I was going to be there for quite some time,” she said, “but that’s when they decided to downsize.”
And downsizing, of course, meant layoffs for those situated at the bottom of the ranks. And because of Sheila’s transfer, that’s exactly where her position was. So she lost her job.
“I was worried,” she said. “But losing that job was, perhaps, one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.”
It was a childhood dream coming true. Since she was young, she always wanted to become a nurse. Unfortunately, Sheila’s first daughter was born just days after her high school graduation. With the increased responsibility of childcare, furthering her education was not an option.
“Instead of becoming a nurse, I became a mother,” she said.
But losing her job at Murata brought that option back to the forefront.
She contacted the unemployment office to get help moving in the right direction. She was finally pursuing her dream.
In August 2001, Sheila enrolled in the nursing program at the Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center and graduated with 35 others. Finally, her dream had become a reality.
The schooling took a full year to complete. According to Sheila, she put eight hours each day into classroom work and additional time when she got home working on her studies at the kitchen table.
“The first day I came home and just cried,” she said. “The program was hard and I questioned myself as to whether I could do it.
“In fact, my husband made me go back the next day,” she joked.
Soon, the days turned to weeks, then weeks to months. Finally, on Aug. 20, Fink donned the cap and gown and graduated as a nurse.
“It was the most remarkable feeling in the word,” she said.
Even more remarkably, Sheila put her newly honed talents to work right away. Just one day after graduation, she was hired in the nursery department at Tyrone Hospital.
“That was yet another feather for my cap,” said Sheila. “It’s just incredible to be able to come back and work in the same town that I grew up in. It also allowed me to work with the people I wanted to work most with, and those are the babies.”
According to Sheila, as soon as a baby is delivered, the doctor hands the child to her for first care.
“That is the absolute most incredible feeling you can ever have in your life,” she said. “You get to see someone taking their first breath in their new world. There’s no other feeling like that.”
Sheila said since her employment began in August, she has seen a dozen babies delivered at the hospital.
Sheila gives much of the credit for her success to her husband Don.
“He has been so totally positive with my decision from the beginning,” said Sheila. “In fact, my whole family was supportive, but Don really helped me make it through. He not only played the role of father, but he also had to play a lot of mommy too.”
She also credits her children’s caregiver Jennifer. Balancing a full-time educational responsibility with caring for three children (Brittany, 11; Dakota, 4; and Kohlton, 20 months) is definitely a task.
“Jennifer has been wonderful and I know for a fact that I couldn’t have done this without her.”
Others who helped push Sheila along includedher grandmother Edna Holland; sister Rhonda Holland; brother Bob Rudasill; mother-in-law Betty Patton; and her father-in-law Don Patton, who passed away on Dec. 15.
“Everybody from my family to my teachers to my fellow students were just so positive,” she said. “I’m thankful to have people like that surrounding me.”
Despite her accomplishment, Sheila said not everyone should drop what their doing to become a nurse.
“It’s one of things that’s just not for everybody,” she said. “If you don’t have that nurturing instinct, stay away. But if you truly care for others and want to do your part in making someone’s life better, then it’s for you.
“Nursing is more than just treating illness,” she said.