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VA Loma Linda Healthcare System


A Soldier, A Nurse, A Mentor, An Extraordinary Woman

Sheryl Terkildsen in uniform.
Thursday, March 15, 2012

As a soldier, mentor, award winning quilter, nurse, and inspirational woman, Community Living Center (CLC) Director Sheryl Terkildsen, RN, MSN will take the hospital’s auditorium stage on March 15 to receive an award for being the extraordinary woman that she is.

Terkildsen is very humble. In her office, the most obvious signs of her achievements are the five seated interns that line the walls.

“I’ve been helping to train interns for over a decade now. I really enjoy it because interns help me to see my role more clearly, and make me reach within to define things they don’t understand, which adds clarity for me. It also gives me a small joy to watch young people grow,” Terkildsen said.

Her five California State University, San Bernardino undergraduate interns described her as being the rock of her unit, an inspirational person, and a leader in the true sense of the word. She inspires not only her interns, but all of the people she works with to reach their fullest potential, while continuing to reach for her own.

“She never gives up. She tries to find solutions. And if she can’t find solutions, then she will look through her books. . .or Google it,” said intern Marlene Rodriguez.

Terkildsen, a fourth generation Veteran, was enlisted in the Army for six years right out of high school. It did not take long after her enlistment ended for her to realize that she was made to be both a soldier and a nurse.

She received the VA’s Health Professional Scholarship, which paid for her last two years of nursing school, and has been in the U.S. Army Reserve for almost 30 years now. Despite recently enjoying an Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) 2000 weekend, Terkildsen plans to retire from the reserves this year.

For relaxation, Terkildsen quilts. In both 2000 and 2008, she won gold medals in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival for a christening gown set and rendition of her husband’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle. One of her quilts earned a first place ribbon in this year’s festival at the VA Loma Linda Medical Center, and she is waiting to see if it places regionally and nationally. Terkildsen teaches quilting, candle making, and soap making at her home studio on weekends.

According to Federal Women’s Program Manager Karesha Cormier, Terkildsen was chosen in light of 2012 being themed as “Women’s Education—Women’s Empowerment” year.

“We chose her because she is still educating and influencing other women to obtain their goals as nurses, and to be of service to other people,” said Cormier.

As one of two women being given the VA Loma Linda Federal Women’s Program Extraordinary Women Award at an hour long National Women’s History Month 11:30 a.m. program, Terkildsen will share the story of how being bitten by a dog in Germany at 4 years old—and receiving all fourteen shots in the rabies series—led to her being inspired to become an Army nurse.


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