Serving Milwaukee as nurses was never a question for each of the Hafemann women. Through witnessing others in the role and having the heart for it, Sue and her daughters, Liz, Emily, and Abby, all decided it was their calling to show Jesus’ love to the community through medicine.
Sue (Duchow) Hafemann (ML 1988) watched and admired her aunt and uncle work as nurses while growing up. She decided not to follow her parents’ footsteps as teachers once she got to Martin Luther. Her teacher, Paul Kindschi, presented science and biology in such a way, it became relatable and interesting to Sue. She saw how medicine can be used to have an immediate connection with others, whereas teaching takes much more time to develop the relationship and see the response. Now a nurse practitioner, she really enjoys the opportunity to put together the puzzle of diagnosing someone by asking the right questions and then being able to see treatment work. Sue still also ended up in a role of teaching as an adjunct at Concordia University Wisconsin in a nursing mentor program.
Liz Hafemann (2014) knew right away she didn’t want a job where she would be doing the same thing everyday. Her initial interest in the medicine field came from watching her mom, also followed by having a great learning experience at Martin Luther with Mr. Kindschi for her chemistry class. Another reason the idea of nursing seemed to fit for Liz, was the one-on-one aspect of the work, rather than talking in front of many people at once. “It’s amazing how fast the trust forms between us and the patients. They tell us what they’re feeling, what they’re scared of, and I can help them work through that.”
Liz is now a registered nurse at St. Luke’s Medical Center on a cardiothoracic step down unit, where she treats heart and lung patients after surgery. She started working on that floor when she was a nursing assistant through Concordia University-Wisconsin (CUW) and worked her way up to her current position.
Emily Hafemann (2017) remembers being around the hospital often while growing up. She looked for ways to help people even as a kid. At events, if someone looked hurt, she would point it out to her mom who then would go assist. Science and math classes clicked for her at Martin Luther as well, and hearing her older sister’s stories of the nursing program in college, it became clear she wanted to follow that path too.
Emily graduated from CUW, passed the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) this spring, and is now a registered nurse alongside her sister Liz at St. Luke’s on the same floor. The floor Liz and Emily currently work on is the same floor that Sue worked on when she first started as a nurse. They are in a different building than Sue was, but it is the same work and even some of the same people. Now in her current position, Emily loves how it allows her to make connections with her patients. “You can make a real difference in their lives, because you’re with them at their lowest and helping them get through that. A college professor once told our class to treat each patient like you’re treating Jesus. The way you act really shows the love of Jesus to people.”
Abby Hafemann (2021) watched all three women in her family find their nursing roles. Her family always encouraged her to choose whichever career path suited her, but she remembers even in 1st grade dressing up as a nurse for career day. “And nothing much changed after that,” she added. Her experience at Martin Luther was all about being involved in service opportunities. One of her roles was senior coordinator through the American Red Cross for the blood drive. They explained to her the whole process of collecting blood, how it saves lives, and it gave her more reason to choose nursing for her post-education.
Abby graduated Valedictorian at ML this spring and will attend CUW in the fall for nursing. She plans on minoring in Spanish to pursue opportunities to work on mission trips. She also looks forward to having her own experiences in developing relationships with patients that she has heard about in so many stories from her mom and sisters.
Looking back, Sue credits many of her successes to the ability to be involved at Martin Luther. She won awards in basketball and track, sang in the choir, and even met her husband (Craig, 1988) at ML. She continued volleyball and basketball through college and was inducted into the CUW Athletic Hall of Fame. She coached basketball both at Martin Luther and Hales Corners Lutheran with great success. Sue is now on the We Play for Him Advisory Board to the Lutheran Schools and was also inducted into the Martin Luther Hall of Honor in 2021.
Seeing the impact at ML, not only when Sue attended but also as a parent when all her daughters went through, was a blessing to her. The teachers that continually cared and students being set up for success after high school was important to her. She is grateful her parents chose Martin Luther for her and her siblings, even though it was more difficult financially, and knew she wanted to give the same gift to her children.