Amber Madden’s Nursing Path Included Time as a Patient

Amber Madden with her Wisconsin League for Nursing’s Nurse Think Pre-licensure scholarship
Amber was the sole recipient of the Wisconsin League for Nursing’s Nurse Think Pre-licensure scholarship.

Amber Madden, a Nursing-Associate Degree student at Lakeshore Technical College, says she wanted to be a doctor or scientist since she was a little girl. However, every time she shared that with someone, she was told she had to be “really smart and dedicated.” Eventually, she gave up on that dream, figuring she wasn’t smart or dedicated enough.

She could not have been more mistaken, though it took her several years to figure that out and get on her current path to becoming a Registered Nurse.


With Acceptance Comes Clarity

After facing a variety of obstacles and childhood adversities, Amber graduated from Lincoln High School in Manitowoc in 2012. She married in 2019 and had her first son in 2020. She had a solid work history and good work ethic though still hadn’t decided what she wanted for her future. Then in 2021 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks lymph tissue in lymph nodes and other areas of the body. Despite the challenges she learned were ahead of her, Amber still felt that with her husband and son, she was living the life she could not have imagined as a child. 

“At first, I couldn’t understand why I had yet again been faced with more adversity, but with acceptance came clarity. Facing my own mortality, I had to come to terms with everything I have ever done, or not done,” says Amber.

While going through chemotherapy, Amber realized the only regret she had in life was not continuing her education due to doubting herself. She also found herself mesmerized by the oncology nurses, their fine-tuned system and equipment, and their extreme compassion. Amber says it was during that time she was reminded how much she loved science.


Confidence Leads to Success

After weeks of heavy contemplation, Amber realized she knew what she wanted to do for the first time in over a decade: work in the medical field. At last confident in her ability to succeed, she wanted to help others with her knowledge, compassion, and personal experience, and work side by side with the nurses that changed her life. 

Amber started in the Nursing-Associate Degree program in 2022. She has been an active student in TRIO, a peer tutor, an Emerging Leadership program participant, and a recipient of a Stand Out award from the Student Leadership Board. She has made the dean’s list and was chosen as the sole recipient of the Nurse Think Pre-licensure scholarship from the Wisconsin League for Nursing. She accepted her scholarship at the League’s fall 2023 conference in Green Bay.

Amber learned about the Nurse Think Pre-licensure scholarship opportunity from Jennifer Schwahn, Associate Degree Nursing Instructor. Jennifer says she “had the privilege” of having Amber as a first semester nursing student in fall 2023. 

“Throughout her theory and clinical courses, Amber served as a positive example to her peers through her encouragement of others and dedication to nursing school. Amber always gave her all to her studies and to the residents she cared for in clinical. She embodied the profession of nursing with her knowledge, skill, and compassion for others. Amber has a bright future in nursing,” says Jennifer.


From Patient to Provider

After graduating, Amber wants to work as a RN in oncology while pursuing her Nurse Practitioner degree, specializing in oncology. 

“My goal is to make my patients comfortable and confident with their treatment plans and work closely with them to achieve our common goal. I don’t want anyone to feel unseen or unheard in the most vulnerable time in their lives,” says Amber.

While Lakeshore is not her end goal, Amber says “It is still my first choice and thanks to its opportunities, it is where my success will always be rooted.” 

We are honored to be part of her journey.


For information about Lakeshore’s Nursing-Associate Degree program, visit