Matt Balanda is no stranger to teaching, but now, it’s his turn to learn. Balanda has spent the majority of the past 12 years as a professional snowboarding instructor and physics teacher at both Hamden High School and Southern Connecticut State University. With his sights set on primary care, Balanda has returned to the classroom as a first-year student of the Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing (GEPN) program.
After completing his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering from SUNY Maritime, Balanda applied to flight school, but he was grounded by asthma. His long-time interest in health care led him to Central Connecticut State University, where he received his master’s in cell biology. As a volunteer at the UConn health center, Balanda said, “I learned a lot from everyone there and noticed nurses were the ones who spent more time with patients.”
When unfortunate circumstances prevented Balanda from attending the Yale School of Nursing (YSN) ten years ago, he began his career in teaching. He never lost interest in health care, and when the opportunity presented itself again, Balanda decided to make a career change.
Balanda’s personal experiences with his former primary care provider continue to influence him today. “He gave me the medicine I needed,” Balanda reflected. “He made a big impact on my life and I want to do the same for someone else.” Ten years after first applying to YSN, Balanda became a student.
“I want this now as badly as I did back then,” Balanda said. “What I like about Yale is how great their program is. Every teacher is willing to go the extra mile and is receptive to their students’ needs.” Balanda is looking forward to pursuing a career as a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Besides the teaching faculty and clinical opportunities, the student environment helped solidify Balanda’s decision to choose YSN. “I haven’t met one negative person. Everybody’s got an amazing background, and their personal motivation has been amazing to witness. The students and teachers are incredibly skilled and know so much.”
Balanda is moving towards his own vision of the future. “I would love to open a clinic specializing in asthma and hypertension,” Balanda said, acknowledging that both chronic illnesses are present in his family.
“The professors are unbelievably skilled and truly want us to learn, and as a teacher, I respect that very much.”