School of Nursing’s youngest member leading Class of 2015 to commencement

On May 15, Wichita State’s School of Nursing will graduate many of its best and brightest, but few of them are as young as the Class of 2015 president, Erin Jundt.

In fact, Jundt is the youngest student in her class.

Her friends have called her a real-life Doogie Howser, having conquered high school in three years and leaving WSU at the age of 20. Besides earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minor in psychology, Jundt said she’s leaving with all of her goals fulfilled and her life exactly where she wants it to be.

“Everything is just perfect right now,” Jundt said. “It’s been amazing.”

Jundt said she chose to come to WSU because she wanted a challenge, and she chose to study nursing because she wanted to be in a position that would require her to be the best at her job.

“I’ve always wanted to work with babies,” she said. “My goal has always been to work in a neonatal intensive care unit, which is what I’m doing now at Wesley Birthing Center’s NICU.”

It’s a position Jundt hopes to make into her permanent career after graduation. It’s been a goal that everyone who knows her can tell you she’s focused on intently.

One of her classmates is graduating nursing student Lydia Schwertfeger, who described Jundt as “somebody who perseveres.”

In their freshman year together, Jundt wanted to throw a party for her class, but the attendance wasn’t what they hoped for. Schwertfeger said Jundt wasn’t dissuaded, however, and kept throwing parties and doing things to bring the class together.

“Erin Jundt is super friendly and super ambitious, but not in an arrogant way,” Schwertfeger said. “She just cares a lot about whatever she’s involved in and about the things she’s passionate about.

“She got involved in leadership opportunities early on and was the youngest of us, but we made her our class president because she deserved it. She’s got a great sense of humor, and she’s got a great heart, too.”

As for her affinity for babies, Jundt said it is because of a bond she’s always shared with them.

“I’ve always been the baby of everything myself,” Jundt said. “I’m the baby of my family, of my graduating class and of the nursing students. I just have an affinity for little babies.”

Jundt comes from a family of engineers, including her grandfather, father, uncles and four brothers. They’ve been supportive of her decision to pursue a career in medicine, she said, which has helped her keep her goals in sight.

While many in her class accuse her of leading a charmed life, not everything in nursing school came easy to Jundt. The hardest part for her was the diversity of training nursing students go through, when all she wanted to do was take care of the sick and premature babies that occupy the NICU. It’s only been in the past five months, at Wesley’s NICU, that she’s actually accomplished that goal.

“The last five months have been so reassuring,” Jundt said. “When you’re in nursing school, you’re constantly taking care of adults, and it’s like a whole different job. There were times when I said, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’ Now I’m sure. I love it.

“When you have a baby in the NICU, you want the person taking care of it to be the best. That’s what I want to do. My job is amazing — all I do all day is listen to babies laugh. Who would want to work with anyone but babies?”

Jundt is resigned to being the class baby and its permanent designated driver — even though she’s qualified to legally dispense narcotics — but she has no regrets about her time at WSU. In two more years, she said, she plans to pursue a doctorate, but for now, she’s just reveling in her accomplishment.

“I don’t know how to say this so that it doesn’t sound cheesy, but it’s super fulfilling when you get to the point that you’ve been working so hard to achieve,” Jundt said. “I’ve always known exactly what I wanted to do, and now I’m finally here.”