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From Construction Worker to E.R. Nurse: Marvin Van Der Wiel’s William Penn Story


 Back to school was more significant than simply returning after a summer off for Marvin Van Der Weil. It meant rethinking his life’s path and how far he wanted to go in his educational journey and career.

Prior to completing his bachelor of science in nursing degree at William Penn University, Marvin worked in construction for 16 years. He decided to make a career change and attended community college, receiving his associate’s degree in nursing. Marvin also volunteered with his local community ambulance service for 33 years. After 10 years of service as an emergency department RN at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, Marvin chose William Penn to further his education because of the flexible blended online and in-classroom programs, as well as the scholarship opportunities that were available.

“William Penn provides individual personalized service and care to every student on campus with the desire to see each and every student succeed in their education and life,” says Marvin. “My experience at Penn has been overwhelmingly satisfying and Penn helped me achieve my goal of completing my college education.”

Now, Marvin continues to work as an emergency department nurse at Mercy, and has been nominated as one of the 100 Great Iowa Nurses of 2017. He is a member of the State of Iowa Child Death Review Team and Chair-elect of the Iowa Emergency Nurses Association. He also serves as an instructor for a variety of courses such as Nursing Orientation, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and the Trauma Nursing Core Course.

“Marvin’s story highlights everything we are so proud to provide to students here at William Penn,” says Kerra Strong, vice president for enrollment management. “We make it as easy and rewarding as possible to go back to school and build on the skills you already have, while giving students a welcoming, warm environment to learn in.”

William Penn University offers flexible class schedules, including online and evening classes with eight-week terms, distance learning and expanded course offerings including a new insurance/risk management minor.

“At William Penn University, our mission of open hearts and open minds isn’t simply a set of goals we hope to achieve,” says William Penn President John Ottosson. “It’s who we are at our very core. It’s the belief that every individual has value and deserves access to a quality education.”

About William Penn University

William Penn University provides the opportunity for an educational experience with a focus on leadership, technology, and the Quaker principles of simplicity, peace-making, integrity, community and equality.


For more information, contact:

Hailey Brown
Communications/Event Coordinator
William Penn University
(641) 673-1078 |

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