Tony Bernard

Tony Bernard

San Juan College student, Tony Bernard is an example of how to do a mid-life career change with style.

Following high school, he spent more than 10 years as a commodity trader in Chicago. “I had a variety of jobs on the Chicago Board of Trade, beginning as a runner, and eventually running the Chicago Division of Smith Barney and Thomson McKinnon where I shared time between operations and the trading floor,” Bernard recalls.

At the age of 32, he left Chicago and moved to Colorado. His decision was made simple. “I opened a map of Colorado and decided to come to Durango,” he smiles. “I worked a few odd jobs, including a stint in a t-shirt shop. I eventually ended up in the car business and spent over 10 years selling cars and working in the service department.”

“I enjoyed what I did, but I always had a true passion for healthcare,” Bernard continues. “It’s tough to get up every morning and go to a job doing something that you are not enthusiastic about.”

In the fall of 2008 he made a change. He enrolled full-time at San Juan College with a goal to study nursing.

“My only regret is that I didn’t begin this process 10 years earlier,” he says. It’s obvious that he’s made the right decision. In April, Bernard was presented with a San Juan College Student Excellence Award in biology from the School of Science.

“Tony is a model student in his anatomy and physiology classes with a near perfect average,” says Lynn Sweeney, San Juan College assistant professor of Biology. “His study habits and class participation set an example for other students, and he is always willing to help other students who are having trouble in class.”

Bernard expects to graduate from San Juan College in 2012 with an associate’s degree in nursing and continue at the University of New Mexico to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. After completing his bachelor program, he hopes to go to a nurse anesthetist program possibly at Rush Memorial in Chicago.

“San Juan College is helping me achieve my goals,” he says. “It’s great to have an institution that helps people in their quest to achieve their career goals – even later in life.”