Doctor Nate

Even before we were engaged, I knew Nate wanted to go to graduate school. His biology degree was never the 'final' step of his career path and it was always a matter of WHICH career he would pursue. When he quit his biotech job in St. Louis right before our wedding, I knew that he wasn't going back to the working world in that area. I knew he'd begin to take pre-requisite classes in the summer of 2007 and again in the fall of 2007. But he had so many ideas of what he wanted to be when he grew up. Medical school? He always wanted to be a doctor but all of a sudden, that dream didn't seem like it would fit with his other life's goals of having a family life and he wasn't sure he wanted to be in school THAT long with THAT much debt. I supported that decision. Physician's Assistant? Close enough to a doctor but less schooling, it was a thought. Dentistry? We moved to Milwaukee because Nate was on the wait list at Marquette's dental school, although we weren't 100% sure that would be the right pick either (obviously, things always work out for the best).

Then came the original thought of Nate becoming a Physical Therapist. You see, not only am I a PT but Nate's dad is one, too. He's surrounded by our kind, I guess, and the most ironic part of this entire story is that Nate was accepted to SLU's PT program as a senior in high school----just like me. He attended SLU as a part of their freshman-admit PT program, right on track to graduate with his Master's in 2005. But he made the decision to switch into pre-med after one semester, going for that dream of the title 'Doctor'. At least he still met the woman of his dreams at SLU even if he switched his major:)

Fast forward about 7 years later, when he was a newlywed trying to make a huge decision about his career life. He knew that PT would be a great fit for him: a people-person, who likes to make his own decisions, never be at a desk all day long, with amazing job security as the baby boomer generations ages. I didn't push him into this decision and neither did his dad, but we were so happy when he finally picked therapy to be his path. I remember the day we got the acceptance letter from UWM saying he was one of only 15 students selected to be in the class of 2011's Doctoral program. Yes, because he missed his original opportunity to get his Master's degree he now had to endure an extra year for the D.P.T. because that is now the standard across the nation. His measly little wife gets 'grandfathered' in with her M.P.T. and can practice in all the same jobs, with the same pay, as the higher degree. Yes, irony at it's finest.

I remember when PT school began for Nate in the summer of 2008, after one whole year of pre-requisites. It was brutal and I hated seeing him gone every day from 8-4 then studying every night and all weekend long. But I knew we had to get used to this shift in our new marriage because May of 2011 seemed like an eternity. I still don't know how I convinced him to start a family before he was done with school but he will admit now that having Truman was the best decision we've made yet (told you so!) even if the timing seemed crazy at first. Our roles as husband and wife and parents have been anything but typical and sometimes it was tough, for sure, but you know what? Those three years FLEW by (four years if you count the pre-requisite year). I dreamed of this day for so long, the day when Nate would wear his doctoral cap and gown and get his degree. I dreamed of a day we would have two salaries in this marriage. A day when my husband wouldn't need to study all weekend or pay for textbooks or tuition. And now it's here and it's hard to believe.

Nate is one of the most determined, intelligent, outgoing, and positive people in my life. He deserves this moment in the spotlight for this ginormous accomplishment. To say that I'm proud of him in a huge understatement. And it's not all about the second income, like I thought it would be. It's about the fact that my husband has a career that will make him happy, fulfilled, and one that suits his personality perfectly. It took a lot of sacrifice on both of our parts to get to this point and our newlywed years will always have stories that are far from the norm. I wouldn't have it any other way.

This past weekend was the big graduation ceremony, plus a small 'pinning' ceremony just for his PT class. My parents came to town to help celebrate and we had a small BBQ on Sunday night after the graduation in honor of the newest PT of the house. It was amazing and just what the doctor ordered for me (bad pun intended). Some pictures to show you the exciting milestone:


a fave:


fave family photo ever:


I always rolled my eyes when Nate said I'd have to call him a doctor when he graduated. I mean, please---he's not a Physician or a PhD or anything. As his wife it's my duty to make sure his head doesn't get too big, right? But I have to admit, seeing him in that doctoral cap and gown, reading his diploma got me all teary eyed. I'm just so proud of my hubby. All that is left to do now is take the national boards exam (June 7--say your prayers!) in order to get his license and he already found a fabulous job that will begin on May 31. Although the past month has been one of much heartache and sadness for our family this achievement is something that we can claim as one hugely happy event for us all. Nate is done with school...finally. And also: already? :)


  1. First, CONGRATS NATE!!! My sister is in the DPT program at the U of MN and her graduation is in a couple of weeks. She doesn't have a job just yet but she's not what I would call "focused" in her job search :) SO awesome that he has a job lined up! Even if it wasn't about that 2nd income... man oh man, will it ever be awesome to have it :)

    SO many awesome photos in this post!!! LOVE the family photo!

    I'm so glad you had some happiness after your really hard month. Not like it makes it all better, but you deserve some happy smiles and tears after all that.

  2. What a nice recap - Nate's lucky to have such a loving and supportive wife. And you're lucky, too, of course! What a major accomplishment - congrats again to Nate, and to you! Very happy for you guys! Also, that family photo is to die for, and I love the one of the kids and moms, too. Unbelievable that they were all looking! :)

  3. congratulations nate! i remember when i started reading in 2008 and graduation seemed so far off for him! can't wait to see the exciting things coming your way as a family. best wishes!

  4. How's this for crazy? - I still remember reading your blog post announcing Nate was accepted into PT school. And now graduation has come and gone! I'm so happy for your fam....I know you have been looking forward to this day for a long time and yes, you two endured a lot. I'm sure us readers don't know half of it! Congrats again to Nate and cheers to TWO INCOMES! When can I come over and swim in your money pool? ;)

  5. I found your blog a few weeks back (googling baby bellies, because mine was really big for how far I was) and was so sad to here of the loss of your baby. I was also pregnant with my second baby, a few weeks behind you. I started miscarrying not long after reading about your loss. I wanted to let you know that even though I do not know you, I have prayed for you and feel for you and your pain now more than ever.

  6. Woohoo!! CONGRATS to Nate and great photos!!

  7. Congratulations to Nate! That is an awesome accomplishment. I am so happy for your family. I, too, remember when you all were just starting this journey. It's hard to believe you are at the end of this one and at just the beginning of a new one. Very exciting changes to come, I'm sure!

  8. What great news in the Hornung house! I can't wait to see what is to come this year as your life goes through the new changes of NO MORE SCHOOL! :)

  9. Dude, you teared up? I teared up as well. Such an accomplishment and I can just feel the pride you have for your husband!

    CONGRATULATIONS to Nate and your family!

  10. Congratulations to Nate on his DPT!

    My youngest graduated with his Ph.D. (Experimental Biopsychology) this past weekend as well! So now I've had to endure all the "Doctor---->Nurse" comments. I keep telling him he's the wrong kind of doctor to give me orders! ;)

    I wish you all much happiness as you begin this new chapter in your exciting!

  11. I am so happy that you guys got to celebrate such an incredible accomplishment! What a great feeling that must have been - and you deserve a lot of credit for helping him.

    Also? That yellow dress you wore is gorgeous! I wish I could wear yellow but you rock it. Love that family picture.

    Enjoy the happy moments and all the celebration!

  12. Congrats to Nate! That is such an exciting time in life- to finally know you accomplished what you wanted to and be ready for the next step. :)

  13. Hooray for Nate!! So glad that you guys are getting some happiness and joy. Love the family photo.

  14. Congrats to both of you! As someone who also raised a baby while her husband went to school, I know you're just as deserving of congratulations. Hard work all around!

    And besides Truman, that little boy in the red shirt is just the most darling thing!

  15. First, and most importantly, congrats to Nate and your family. Secondly, where did you get your yellow shirt and skirt? It is too cute and I would like to get one. This request is much less important but I am curious.

    Yeah for you guys.

  16. First, and most importantly, congrats to Nate and your family. What an accomplishment.

    Secondly, and very low on the importance totem pole: where did you get your yellow top and skirt? too cute, and I would like to get one for my own upcoming graduation.

  17. When you say Also already! Ack! Really?

  18. YAY for Nate!!! Post-graduate education is no walk in the park and congrats to him for finishing AND already having a job waiting for him!

  19. I'm so excited for your family. Congratulations Nate!!!

  20. Kate~
    The yellow top is from Anthropologie---a birthday money splurge for me! The dark denim skirt is from Ann Taylor Loft. I crossed my fingers that they would look okay together!

  21. Dear Julia,
    You and I live on different sides of the country, and really in different worlds. But I would like to let you know that I have been reading your blog for two years, and you have truly inspired me. I have laughed with you, cried with you, and rejoiced with you, all the while invisible. I am truly a fan. :)
    Sincerely, Allison


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