Top Ch­e­sa­peake grad ready to start sec­ond act

The Kent Island Bay Times - - SENIOR SATELLITE -

WYE MILLS — Tim Dig­nen, win­ner of the 2017 Har­ri­son Award — the top grad­u­ate honor at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege — says he is just get­ting started.

At an age when many are pre­par­ing to wrap up their ca­reers, the 62-year-old vet­eran is pre­par­ing to start a new one. He grad­u­ated from Ch­e­sa­peake on May 24 with an as­so­ciate de­gree in nurs­ing.

After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Dig­nen re­turned to Mary­land where he be­gan work with the fa­cil­i­ties depart­ment at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He re­tired from the Academy after 30 years. A li­censed elec­tri­cian, Dig­nen is the owner of Dig­nen and Sons Elec­tri­cal Con­tract­ing.

Dig­nen, a Den­ton res­i­dent, has three grown sons and a grand­son. Feel­ing a need to ser ve oth­ers and deal­ing with his own health is­sues, Dig­nen said he had an epiphany in 2012.

“I was re­cov­er­ing and do­ing re­hab from a car­diac event. I had started to burn out from a ca­reer in the skilled trades, so I was do­ing a lot of think­ing about my fu­ture as I was work­ing on my health. I re­al­ized that I needed to do some­thing where I felt like I was help­ing peo­ple and re­ally mak­ing a dif­fer­ence,” Dig­nen said. “One day dur­ing a work-out in the gym, ‘nurs­ing’ came into my head. I knew then that I had to fo­cus on that goal.”

Nurs­ing, he de­cided, would be his next pro­fes­sional pur­suit and he en­rolled at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege the fol­low­ing day. As a non-tra­di­tional stu­dent, Dig­nen worked through the chal­lenges of re­turn­ing to school while jug­gling a busi­ness and fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“If you’re lucky enough to find a pas­sion in life, then you have to pur­sue it,” Dig­nen said.

Like many non-tra­di­tional stu­dents chang­ing ca­reers, Dig­nen said he found the tech­nol­ogy de­mands on 21st cen­tury col­lege stu­dents his tough­est chal­lenge.

“High school stu­dents to­day are used to work­ing with tech­nol­ogy, so they come to col­lege ready. I didn’t have that back­ground, and I needed to find a way to catch up quickly. So, I had to Google a lot and spent many hours in the Aca­demic Sup­port Cen­ter,” Dig­nen said.

Dig­nen shared that de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed with his class­mates and be­came a men­tor to many fel­low stu­dents.

“Tim qui­etly makes a strong im­pact wher­ever he goes. He’s also a kind per­son who goes out of his way to help oth­ers. For ex­am­ple, when he was tak­ing Col­lege Al­ge­bra at night, a few of his class­mates were strug­gling but were un­able to get over to the Aca­demic Sup­por t Cen­ter. He study bud­died with them, I be­lieve weekly, in the 20-30 min­utes that they had avail­able be­tween ar­rival on cam­pus after work and the start of class,” Aca­demic Sup­port Cen­ter Spe­cial­ist MaryLu Towey said. “Tim is a true re­nais­sance man. He is highly in­tel­li­gent, kind, en­gaged with the col­lege com­mu­nity and with learn­ing and life.”

Dig­nen is a cer­ti­fied nurs­ing as­sis­tant with Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health and Com­pass Re­gional Hospice. He plans to pur­sue a nurs­ing ca­reer in ei­ther sur­gi­cal or hospice care. He will be­gin on­line classes for a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in nurs­ing at Steven­son Univer­sity this fall.

He is a mem­ber of the On­col­ogy Nurs­ing So­ci­ety, Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Crit­i­cal-Care in Nurs­ing and Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion for Men in Nurs­ing.

As a stu­dent at Ch­e­sa­peake, Dig­nen has been a stu­dent leader and peer men­tor. A high-achiev­ing stu­dent with a 3.4 GPA, Dig­nen helped oth­ers as a tu­tor in the Aca­demic Sup­port Cen­ter and worked as a lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cian. He was the vice pres­i­dent of the Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege MGW Nurs­ing Class of 2017.

Dig­nen has been on the Dean’s List through­out his time at Ch­e­sa­peake and is a mem­ber of Phi Theta Kappa Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety. He also re­ceived the 2017 Ch­e­sa­peake Choice Dis­tin­guished Achieve­ment Award and the Out­stand­ing Ser­vice Award for nurs­ing grad­u­ates. Dig­nen was a pan­elist for the 2017 Stu­dent Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence and or­ga­nized a cam­pus-wide blood drive this spring.

“Tim is a won­der­ful choice for the Har­ri­son Award be­cause he gives so much of him­self to this com­mu­nity,” said Di­rec­tor of Sim­u­la­tion for Nurs­ing and Al­lied Health Crys­tel Fa­rina. “He is join­ing the car­ing pro­fes­sion of nurs­ing and has con­tin­u­ously demon­strated care to peo­ple in need, demon­strated sup­port to peo­ple help­ing oth­ers, demon­strated com­pas­sion to chil­dren and demon­strated kind­heart­ed­ness by help­ing Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege stu­dents meet their goals through tu­tor­ing. He con­tin­u­ously gives of him­self.”

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