Janzen Twins Happy to Study at Mom's Alma Mater

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Tina, Nathan, and Jessica Janzen
Tina, Nathan, and Jessica Janzen

Tina Janzen ’96 has been an educator for a long time, or as her son, Nathan, likes to say, “since Moby Dick was a minnow.”

It’s actually 31 years in the teaching profession, including the years she put her professional career on hold to homeschool Nathan and his twin sister, Jessica, until they were ready for high school.

After getting her teaching career started and before her twins came along, Tina decided to pursue a master’s degree in education at Viterbo University. The initial attraction of the program was it was designed to fit the schedules of working teachers, with classes meeting on evenings and weekends.

She discovered that Viterbo offered so much more than convenience.

“It was one of the best things I ever did for myself. It helped me grow as a teacher and as a person,” said Tina, who currently teaches fourth grade. “It was wonderful. It was very student centered, and I loved the professors. Tom Thibodeau was my favorite professor of all.”

As much as she loved Viterbo, Tina tried her best not to influence college choices for Jessica and Nathan. “I wanted it to be their decision because I didn’t want them to not like something and then blame Mom and Dad,” she said with a laugh.

She was definitely happy about their choice, partly because it kept them closer to home. “Really, what was most important is the quality of the education you’re going to get and how you can grow as a person,” she said.

Jessica and Nathan are juniors at Viterbo, both with ambitious academic plans and big goals for careers after their education is completed.

Jessica made up her mind first, sold after her first visit to tour the campus. “For me, it was just how the people treated you when you showed up,” said Jessica. “I got the feeling that everyone there was there to help you succeed and grow, and not only in academics. At the end of the tour, I just knew I wanted to come here.”

Jessica is majoring in biology with two health care related minors, and she has plans to go to medical school and specialize in pediatric oncology. “I’ve always loved working with kids, and I’ve had a lot of family and friends who have lost people to cancer,” she said. “I feel like I would be able to bring something and do something for these families.”

Nathan took “a long time” to finally commit to Viterbo. “I finally realized I would rather stick close to home, and Viterbo made it a great deal for me to get two degrees.”

A talented tenor adept at both opera and musical theatre, Nathan is majoring in music and finance. While a career as a professional singer is his primary goal at this point, he said he could also see going to law school and getting certified as a fiduciary to become a financial advisor.

Nathan credits his mother’s singing for helping him discover his musical skills, and while she says she didn’t push him to choose Viterbo, she gets credit for that, too.

“She was very heavily in favor of Viterbo,” Nathan said. “She just knew it was a good place with a lot of good people.”