By: Sory Marochi
The Florian J. & M. Barbara Dominiak Scholarship’s Milwaukee roots go as deep as the three 150’ wells which geo-thermally heat and cool the family home. Teresa B. “Terry” Dominiak, who provides the scholarship, grew up as the middle of three sisters in a household where voices were raised only in laughter. Her hard-working, fun-loving, high-school-graduate parents promised their daughters that they would pay for either parochial high school or college—not both.
Terry chose to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, starting classes there even before her official graduation from Pulaski High School. Living at home, commuting with her father at 6:30 AM, riding city buses and often a bicycle to summer school, Terry routinely shouldered extra-heavy course loads (including one “nightmare” 17-credit semester of biochemistry, bacteriology, anatomy & physiology), finishing the then 4.5 year program in 3.5 years, at the age of 20.
Terry’s most memorable nursing professor taught her to “organize & prioritize”, advice she credits with getting her through many life challenges. Though she clearly has a soft spot for her alma mater, Terry says “it doesn’t matter where you go to school. Your educational accomplishments are your own responsibility.”
“What you learn is up to you,” declares the woman who taught herself C programming. Finding computers to be logical and fun, Terry combined her nursing background with IT. Her work as a clinical data analyst involves “searching for patterns” in patient records transmissions, assuring that information systems used by different institutions interface flawlessly. While some of the errors Terry has discovered occur as infrequently as .002% of the time, such “glitches” can have serious ramifications.
After living in two houses while caring for her father at the family home, Terry decided to purchase her parents’ place and eventually cut back her own work hours in order to oversee her mother’s care. During the two years that her mother was wheelchair-bound and suffering from Alzheimers, neighborhood outings to gardens and even an Irish -!- bagpipe concert at a nearby pub continued the family tradition of enjoying life to the fullest. Terry’s selflessness, nurse’s training and the Dominiak family financial acumen (Barbara Dominiak was self-employed as a tax adviser for 40 years) assured that both her parents were able to remain comfortably at home in their final years.
“I had help (getting my education); now it’s time for me to help someone else,” observes Terry. “As the saying goes, I’m ‘paying it forward’. We need to support the people who will be taking care of us.”
Admission to the nursing program was by raffle during Terry’s years at UWM. It would seem that not only she herself, but all past, present & future recipients of the Florian J. and M. Barbara Dominiak Scholarship won that lottery as well!