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‘I have gone through it myself’: Graduating Blackduck senior hopes to give back

Blackduck High School senior Kourtney Dobmeier will graduate on Friday and plans to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth in the fall. (Jillian Gandsey | Blackduck American)

BLACKDUCK -- Kourtney Dobmeier could dole out the same kind of care she received for the past several years.

After she graduates on Friday, the Blackduck High School senior plans to work on a degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth and, hopefully, become a pediatric nephrology nurse.

Persistent kidney issues meant that Dobmeier was in and out of hospitals since she was 14, and she said the pediatric nephrology nurses who treated her would explain surgeries and help her understand what was going on.

“Just from having that personal experience of going through it myself, I just feel like it would be a good path,” Dobmeier, 18, said of her potential career. “I've always liked helping people, so if I can just help with what I've struggled with....I have that compassion portion because I have gone through it myself.”

She and Blackduck Principal Josh Grover were deliberately vague about the gauntlet of medical hurdles that caused Dobmeier to miss class for days or weeks at a time, sometimes with little or no warning, but Grover had unequivocal praise for Dobmeier’s work ethic.

“She's had to accommodate being away from school, dealing with some things that the average kid doesn't necessarily have to deal with,” he said of Dobmeier, who recalled doing homework in hospital waiting rooms and started considering a pediatric nephrology career after about a year of treatments.

“She's shown us that she is, honestly, above average in the aspect of tenacity and going for the goal.”

Dobmeier said she doesn’t like to complain or be pitied. The bubbly Blackduck native came out of her shell in high school despite the frequent hospital trips, and joined the Drama Club and cheerleading squad; managed the wrestling team; and was a vice president this year at the school’s National Honor Society.

“Being in drama, I guess, was a way for me to put myself out there and try new things,” Dobmeier said. “Especially when I was younger, I was a very quiet person. I wasn't super outgoing and just kind of kept to myself.”

She’s set to graduate with honors this week, and Dobmeier’s mortarboard then will be festooned with gold glitter and a simple quote: “The adventure begins.”

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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