COCC nursing professor took military path to teaching


She recalls seeing bombs drop on Baghdad on television, and Kiri Simning anticipated a phone call.

“I got a phone call saying you’ve been called to active duty,” Simning, a professor of nursing at Central Oregon Community College said. “I had a six-month-old baby and I had just received orders that I was going to Texas.”

Her deployment lasted six months.
“All I can say is thank goodness that was a short war,” Simning said. “It was nothing compared to what the folks these days have to deal with, a year in Afghanistan.”
Simning’s United States Air Force experiences ultimately piloted her into an educator role at COCC.
After five years active duty in the Air Force and three years in the reserves, she went on to become a professor of nursing, where she has taught for the last 16 years.
“There’s a big focus on leadership, obviously,” Simning said. “You have that sense of how the job needs to be done, how to delegate it, how to mentor and how to motivate.”
Simning served as an officer in the Nurse Corps.
“I started as a second lieutenant and when I left I was a captain.”
Simning was stationed at Air Force One’s base, Andrews Air Force Base in Washington DC.
“That was a very exciting place to start out,” Simning said. “There’s so much to learn and see there.”
Simning and her husband met in DC. Patrick Simning was serving as a medical student in the United States Navy at the time.
“We met on night shift on the pediatric unit,” Simning said.
Simning began her teaching career in North Carolina as a community college instructor.
When her husband finished his military commitment, they moved their family to Bend, Oregon.
“Bend had all the right ingredients,” said Simning.
She started teaching nursing part time at COCC, then filled a full-time position when one became available.
Simning encourages veterans to explore all veteran benefits and get as much education as possible.
“[The military] certainly opens a lot of doors,” Simning said. “In the work world people realize that you’ve worked for a system that required a lot of discipline.”
Employers expect veterans to be hard working people with teamwork experience, according to Simning.
“The fun thing is, [the military] creates some camaraderie too,” Siming said. “I’ve walked in the [Veterans Day] parade all these years. You feel this immediate community with people who have also served our country.”
“Anyone who has served in the military realizes that the military becomes your number one priority,” Simning said. “So to just acknowledge that for however long, whether it was four years or twenty years, people were willing to put their country first.”

Anna Quesenberry | The Broadside


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