Skip to content
Be seen. Be heard.

MSU Profiles

Always returning home to North Dakota

Although she grew up as an "army brat" and lived in various states and foreign countries, Diane Sjol, Minot State University associate professor of nursing, always knew North Dakota was home.

"My dad, who originally came from the Lake Metigoshe area, spent 23 years in the United States Army," Sjol related. "The family farms up there, and the farm has been in our family for over 150 years, since they came from Norway. I was born in Seattle, but we lived in Germany a couple times and all over the southeast coast and Midwest. In between my dad's tours of duty, we couldn't wait to come home to North Dakota."

When her father returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968, the family moved on to Minot Air Force Base for two years while he served as the army advisor to the National Guard. Sjol graduated from Minot High School in 1970 and enrolled at Minot State College to become a nurse. She left college after a year to get married. She lived in Germany for three years, in Texas for 17 years and in Georgia for six before returning to North Dakota and Minot State.

"When I came back to North Dakota, I came back to the school that I originally started at and graduated from nursing school 25 years from when I started. I took some college classes while in Georgia," Sjol said. "But it was hard as a single mother, and money was tight."

When Sjol returned to Minot State University as an older student, she found she was more focused. MSU offered an excellent nursing program at an affordable price and allowed her and her daughters to be near her parents in Bottineau.

After graduating from MSU in 1999, Sjol worked in Minot at UniMed and Trinity Hospitals. She began teaching at Dakota College at Bottineau before joining Minot State's faculty in 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from MSU and a master's degree in nursing from Walden College.

"The same caring attitude in the MSU nursing program is still here as when I was a student," Sjol said. "Technology, however, has really helped us teach students things that previously took nurses a long time to learn. Simulation is huge."

After growing up in a military family and living in various places, Sjol encourages students to be tolerate of patients' beliefs and cultures.

"I try to teach holistic nursing, a mind, body and spirit approach. It embraces all cultures and diversity," Sjol said. "I encourage students to find out what is important to the patient, in particular if they have any cultural concerns, special requests or even the requests that may seem minor, like keeping arms covered during surgery or special foods. The little things really cinch people's comfort during treatment."

Sjol and her husband, Scott, have a blended family of seven children, 10 grandchildren and two rescue dogs. They divide their time between Minot and their Lake Metigoshe cabin.

"Never give up and follow your dreams," Sjol advised. "It took me 25 years."