Skip to main content
The official hub for news and stories from Colorado Mesa University
When You Stop Learning, That’s When You Get Old

On May 20, 2023 Cindy Pofahl will join her classmates and walk across the stage to accept her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree fifty years after becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). At the age of 75, Pofahl exemplifies the value of curiosity and her commitment to lifelong learning shows that it is never too late to invest in yourself and tap into the value of higher education.

Pursuing a BSN for Pofahl was not primarily about career advancement or financial incentives, but rather was a personal goal fueled by her inner drive to never stop learning.

“There is always something, nursing related or not, to learn. When you stop learning, that’s when you get old,” she explained.

Pofahl originally wanted to go into nursing “for the look: cap, white shoes, stocking and uniform”, but after working as a nursing assistant in Wisconsin she realized “I wanted to be a nurse for the right reason, the patient.” She earned her RN from Saint Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1973 and during her rotations she fell in love the operating room, where she has spent most of her career.

Pofahl currently works for the Vail Health system at the Edwards Ambulatory Surgery Center but throughout her career she has worked across the country in a variety of medical fields. The gas shortages in the 1970s kept Pofahl local and she learned how to excel at an obstetrics and gynecology unit in Milwaukee. She then traveled in Oregon as the gas shortage wound down and after that spent time at a brand-new hospital, Froedtert, where she learned about kidney transplants, liver transplants, urology, neurology, plastic reconstructive operations and ear, nose and throat procedures.

Seeking a drier climate, Pofahl and her family moved to Grand Junction, and she worked at St. Mary’s Hospital until she felt it was time for a new challenge and accepted a travel assignment allowing her to work in Arizona, California, Colorado and Wisconsin, eventually settling in Vail. In her current position Pofahl loves the fast-paced environment and the variety of procedures that she is involved with. The Edwards Ambulatory Surgery Center specialized in sports medicine, so she works with patients from around the world on knee, hip, ankle and shoulder injuries.

After losing her husband, and following the marriage of her youngest daughter, Pofahl was looking for a new challenge and when an affordable opportunity to attend the BSN program at Colorado Mesa University presented itself, she went for it. All her nursing and science credits from her RN degree transferred to CMU which helped to put her goal within reach.

To those considering going back to school, Pofahl shared this advice, “do not wait. Start slow and if going back to school is something you really want to do, go for it. It will give you personal satisfaction and can help you advance your current career, or you may find yourself going in a different direction. You can work, go to school and still have family time, so what’s stopping you?”

In addition to accomplishing her lifelong goal of obtaining her bachelor's degree, Pofahl said, “by earning my BSN I challenged myself and learned new leadership skills and communication skills which have helped me in my current position as a float charge nurse.”

She will have her youngest daughter, a son-in-law, one of her granddaughters and her wife present at commencement. Her son and the rest of the family will be streaming the ceremony from Wisconsin since they recently made the trek out to Colorado in April for Snowboard Nationals at Copper Mountain.

Pofahl will be retiring in 2024 and plans to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to her family. She is looking forward to catching up on her scrapbooking, crocheting and reading some non-textbook materials in addition to spending time with her children and grandchildren.


Written by Giff Walters