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Graduate is an outstanding nursing student, All-American athlete

Photo caption: Graduating senior Teagan Jones plans to remain in the Chippewa Valley after commencement to begin her nursing career and continue to work toward a potential Olympic trials in 2028.

Teagan Jones had never heard of Eau Claire while growing up in a Chicago suburb, but she decided to take a trip north of the border as a high school junior after being invited to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for an athletics recruiting visit.

Now, five years later, Jones is a nursing degree candidate for graduation this month and an All-American track and field athlete who couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

“I just fell in love with the campus and the track team, and the nursing program was phenomenal,” Jones recalls of her first visit to UW-Eau Claire. “It just kind of checked all the boxes. I did not anticipate loving northern Wisconsin as much as I did.”

Teagan Jones

The synergy between athletics and nursing came during Jones’ high school days in Lake Zurich, Illinois, when she suffered a sports injury that required surgery. During her time in the hospital, Jones witnessed firsthand the care and comfort that nurses provide to their patients.

“That’s what set me on this track,” Jones says of her passion for nursing.

During the nursing program at UW-Eau Claire, Jones realized that the clinical aspect of the profession confirmed that nursing was her calling.

“I love going to clinical and getting that hands-on experience, especially with patients,” Jones says. “I just enjoy getting to meet a bunch of different people from all different aspects of life and getting to connect with them.”

As Jones found her niche in nursing, she also was becoming one of the top track and field throwers in the country. She is a two-time All-American for her performances in the 2023 outdoor national championships and this year’s indoor national meet. Jones hopes for a third All-American honor this spring and perhaps even an individual national championship in the hammer throw.

Teagan Jones

Jones praises UW-Eau Claire’s coaches for her success in transitioning from the pole vault, triple jump and high jump in high school to concentrating on the hammer throw, discus and shot in college.

“They’ve been phenomenal,” Jones says. “The coaches really know what they’re talking about. They’re all very invested in the program and the athletes, and helping us achieve the goals we want.”

Chip Schneider, UW-Eau Claire head track and field coach, describes Jones as organized and detail-oriented in athletics and the classroom, calling her “one of the best examples of what a DIII athlete is.”

“She is trying to achieve the highest levels in her sports as well as in nursing school, while working a job to help pay for school,” Schneider says. “Her commitment to being an athlete is at the highest level while paying her own way through college. She is balancing so many things and still finds a way to be at the highest levels as an athlete.

“She has come to Eau Claire from Illinois because of our outstanding nursing program and throws program. This speaks highly of UWEC and our ability to attract the very best.”

Nursing instructors have been flexible to allow student-athletes to excel in the classroom and in sports, Jones says.

Dr. Dalete Mota, professor of nursing, has attended track and field meets hosted at UW-Eau Claire to support Jones and other nurses who are athletes. Mota says that seeing the dedication of student-athletes like Jones inspires her to prepare the next generation of nurses.

“Teagan is a brilliant nursing student and a fantastic track and field athlete,” Mota says, noting that Jones is an honor student. “That means she goes beyond the requirements of nursing school. And I can attest that she does all her work with diligence and excellence.

“I have always been impressed by student athletes' responsibility, organization and determination; Teagan is no different. She is always in class, on time, paying attention to class and getting good grades.”

Jones works part time at a Chippewa Valley medical clinic, and she plans to stay in the Chippewa Valley after graduation to work in nursing and continue her athletic training in hopes of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic trials in the throws in 2028.

“I always figured I would go to school, go back home and stay in the Chicago area,” Jones says. “I came up here and I’ve fallen in love with this area.”