Written by Liz McCue
Twenty-six years is a longer period of time than most students on Doane’s Crete campus have even been alive. In fact, in the past few years, Kelly Jirovec started seeing the children of students who walked into the nurse’s office early on in her career at Doane, which began in fall 1997.
There’s a good chance she remembers a few stories about those now-parents. No matter what you major in, what clubs you join, which sports you play or the residence hall you live in — everyone goes to the nurse’s office, after all.
“She has an incredible institutional knowledge,” said Kim Heier ’87, who worked closely with Jirovec as the dean of students until 2004 and is now a member of the Board of Trustees.
Jirovec had planned to retire when she had grandchildren. Her son Jeff Jirovec and daughter-in-law Heather Husen ’14 welcomed a newborn in January 2023. Jirovec’s daughter and son-in-law in Hawaii, Julie Jirovec ’16 and Alika McNicoll ’15, are also expecting a son in early December. Retirement certainly allows for more flexibility in visiting them.
She began her nursing career working in a hospital, then at Crete High School. The position at Doane came open and she thought, ‘well, I’ll give it a try.’
It’s come with challenges — college students aren’t always known to make the best decisions around health and safety — but also a great many rewards as students discover who they are.
“It gave me a really good chance to help students transition from dependent to independent,” Jirovec said. “Growing up is a learning curve.”
Over the years, her role has also grown, from providing part-time care to students on campus, to becoming an advocate for improving student health beyond the door of her office. Student demographics have changed and presented different needs.
“As time has gone on, we’ve seen a need for more advanced services,” Jirovec said, such as a provider who can diagnose and treat students right on campus. “It really makes me happy to know that I’m able to make things better as I leave.”