Helping her community is what drives Carolyn Kvernvik.
Carolyn was born and raised in Petersburg. She graduated from Petersburg High School in 2012. Throughout high school she played volleyball and basketball, served on the student council, and spent summers fishing with her dad.
She went on to graduate from Gonzaga University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental services, which she had intended to use somehow in the fishing world. Instead, Carolyn moved home after college, did some more fishing with her dad, and then became a substitute janitor at the school.
"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and they were in need of some help at the school, so I thought, why not?" Carolyn said. "Shout out to all janitors—that work is no joke."
In 2016, Carolyn learned that Petersburg Medical Center had become a site for the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Nursing’s distance program.
"My goal has always been to make a living while helping out community, so when nursing presented itself, I went for it," she said.
Carolyn was accepted into Petersburg’s first UAA nursing program cohort and after two years of hard work graduated in May 2019 with an associate of applied science degree in nursing. She then continued on to pursue a bachelor of science degree in nursing, taking online classes through Utah-based Western Governors University. She graduated in 2021.
"Alaska doesn't require nurses to have a bachelor’s degree, but I have goals and thought now is the time," she said. Carolyn next hopes to pursue a wound care certificate and hopes to apply for a management position at PMC in the future.
Carolyn typically works a 6:00pm-6:00am shift at PMC—not every nurse's first choice.
"At first it was scary because I was new to nursing, but nights is where I am needed," she said. Carolyn loves being able to see the community and get to know them. Patients love telling stories about their lives and Carolyn loves to listen.
Carolyn sleeps during the day when she has shifts. When she isn't resting for shift, she takes advantage of her free daytime hours.
"I will not waste my days off," she said. Carolyn loves to kayak, hike, adventure with friends, and go fishing with her boyfriend, Aaron Phillips. Though travel adventures have taken her to Italy, Zambia, and New Zealand, she always makes her way back home to Petersburg.