Joy, Adversity, and Inspiration

Jared Norman’s road to UCC nursing program

Halfway through a year-long backpacking trek a few years ago, Jared Norman realized his calling.  He knew that becoming a pediatric oncology nurse would be his career path. To clarify, the practice of pediatric oncology deals with treating children with cancer.

“This is what you are going to do with the rest of your life,” Norman said to himself while at Sperry’s Campground by Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park.

Norman is a 33-year-old nursing student who started the nursing program at UCC this term.  His acceptance into the program was preceded by two years of pre-nursing studies. Some know Norman from the Welcome Desk in the Student Center.

During his journey in Glacier National Park, Norman heavily attributes the shot from the blue to his brother, Errett, and his father, also named Errett.

Norman was six years younger and less adventurous than his brother growing up, but none of this stopped the two from bonding. “We were about as open in communication as two people could be,” said Norman of their relationship. Norman describes his brother Errett as an avid athlete: “My brother did soccer, dive and wrestling in high school.”

Creativity was a strong connecting point between the Norman brothers. “We would write poetry and make up our own stories,” recounted Norman.

And while Norman and his brother made up stories together, the two brothers were almost surely learning new techniques and plot twists from their father. “I love storytelling. I think I got that from my dad,” said Norman.   Norman noted that his father and brother were the ones who showed him to make friends wherever he goes. However, growing up proved to be far from easy for Norman.

The tone of Norman’s voice dropped and his cadence slowed as he brought up one of the early traumas of his life. “My parents divorced when I was kindergarten,” said Norman.

Then, Norman’s family was struck with tragedy in 1998 when his beloved brother took his own life. Even this was not the last major family tribulation for Norman.

“I started to come out of the closet, which led to my father kicking me out of the house,” shared Norman. Within two years of his brother’s passing, he was truly on his own.


Travel was Norman’s growing passion at that point in time. “In traveling I learned to ‘Enjoy the journey’ All of the journey! The good, the bad, the heartbreak, and the inspiration. Love every moment,” stated Norman. His journey led him across a number of the western states including Idaho, Washington, and Montana.

“I would come into a town and get a bartending or serving job,” Norman said. “I would usually stay in one place for about six to eight months and save up some money, then go travel again,” he continued. Norman is still passionate about seeing life from multiple settings. “I want to travel and see as many places as I can,” he stated.

However, for all of the enrichment and freedom that he had lived in town and on the trail, Norman was now seeking something else.  “I was looking to find the right place. That place turned out to be Oregon. Which is where I started,” Norman chuckled. “I do feel like this [Oregon] is home,” says Norman. Thematically, Norman’s highlighted how he valued relationships in his life most of all.

“My father and I did make peace,” said Norman after a much-needed pause to breathe and regroup. Although his father passed in 2009 he describes his father and brother as always feeling present in his life. “I feel them both guiding me,” he says. “Both of them . . . they are my heroes,” beamed Norman.

Along with his father and brother, Norman also is personally inspired by his goddaughter—the daughter of his cousin, and his godson—his best friend’s child. Norman’s trials may serve him in his field of nursing; not everyone who sets out in this field can handle it. In his voice there is a very gentle manner of speech that is coupled with a noticeable attention to the way he is affecting the person he addresses. Norman takes to easing the troubles of others without pretense. He can earnestly express the hardships and the joys of his life articulately while still being deeply moved by memory.

Norman shared a vivid memory of pushing his own boundaries while on an adventure with his brother. The memory also has become a way of looking at life. “He reached down, and pulled me up, and got me to the top of the hill, and I felt like such a winner. Then we made it down to these slides, and there’s this rock and he got up and jumped off of it into freezing cold water. And he convinced me to climb up there. And I got up there and I’m like terrified of heights, and I couldn’t get down. So he got in the water below me and like looked up at me, and he was like ‘Jared, just jump in faith!’ I jumped. He pulled me up out of the water and pulled me over to the shore. I try to do everything in my life, I just… everything I’ve done, like traveling, moving from place to place, skydiving, kayaking, getting a new job, going to school; everything I do I just picture him standing below me. I’m always at the edge of a cliff, and I just know that my brother is going to catch me.”

“I do feel like this [Oregon] is home” —Jared Norman, UCC student