EMS graduate shaves her head to raise money for childhood cancer research
In March 2016, Victoria Neunsinger, 26, traveled nearly 600 miles from her home in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, to Helen Fitzgerald’s Irish Grill & Pub in St. Louis, Missouri, to have her head shaved. Victoria’s goal was raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-powered charity funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers. She was a member of a 15-shavee team, 6 Is a Serious Number, that brought in more than $21,000 in donations, besting the team’s $17,000 goal.
More about Victoria…
Originally from Elk River, Minnesota, a city of 23,000 residents about 34 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Victoria graduated from Elk River Senior High School in 2010. She was an accomplished athlete, playing varsity hockey, soccer and lacrosse. Hockey was her favorite sport—she played the game for 13 years growing up. Her positions were center, wing and goalie.
After high school, Victoria attended Anoka-Ramsey Community College, earning her Associate of Arts (A.A.) in 2012. From there, she attended Santa Reparata International School of Art, a prestigious art college in Florence, Italy, attended by mostly American international students seeking a study-abroad experience.
“I got talked into going by a very persuasive recruiter,” Victoria said. “I was thinking about becoming a fashion designer. I have the utmost respect for that profession—it brings a different kind of stress than paramedicine, but it wasn’t for me.”
Three words that describe you as a paramedic:
COMPASSIONATE. INDEPENDENT. RESOLUTE.
Victoria returned to the U.S. and enrolled in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program at Inver Hills Community College. She graduated from Inver in May 2015 with her Accelerated Track Paramedic Associate of Science (A.S.) degree. While in the program, she served as president of EMSSA, a volunteer student organization dedicated to supporting community well-being and education regarding emergency medical services.
“I became very close to some of my classmates, including Simone Ramler,” Victoria said. “We were the front-row girls. You get very little sleep in the EMS program and you have to develop unique study habits and learn how to manage your time. You need to know how to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people.”
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
Care for sick and injured people in emergency situations.
Above the statewide median of $19.62/hour
Seven-county Twin Cities metro
This career is currently in very high demand and is seeing very high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate is 17.3 percent, or well above the statewide average. There will be a need for about 1,500 new Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics to meet market demand between 2014–2024. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.
— Minnesota State CAREERwise Education
After graduating from Inver Hills, Victoria went to work as a full-time paramedic at North Memorial Ambulance Service at the North Memorial location in Brooklyn Center. She works with a number of her former EMS classmates, including Simone.
“I work the day shift—4 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Victoria said. “You work with a partner and switch off driving between runs. You learn what kind of person you are on this job. You learn what kind of paramedic you want to be. I’ve found that I’ve become more thoughtful, introspective and compassionate. You see how families react in an emergency. Some are stoic and some are filled with empathy.”
Victoria has also become a preceptor to current EMS students. “My class and the class above us worked out the mentoring kinks,” she said.
When she’s not working, Victoria loves to snowboard and she’s looking forward to winter and lots of snow. She snowboards at Afton Alps and Welch. She also likes spending time with her two dogs, Bella, a 4-year-old, black labradoodle, and Kota, aka Dakota McGills Wenckebach, a 2-year-old St. Bernard, Siberian husky, border collie and unknown mix.
She has an older sister, Dorie, who’s married and lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Victoria is an aunt to Dorie’s two children, nephew Alex, 21, and niece Isabella, 18. Victoria’s sister, Kimberly, resides in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and has two children, Ashlyn and Chloe.
Victoria Neunsinger Q & A
What inspired you to shave your head to raise money for childhood cancer research?
My friend works as a music therapist in pediatric oncology and decided she would brave the shave. We talked for months about her decision; what would she look like, awkward hair stages, and other insecurities she would experience as a bald female. A couple weeks before the event, she called me and was a bundle of nerves—so I told her I would do it with her so she’d have a bald friend.
How long was your hair?
When was the last time you had your hair cut?
Four or five months before the event
How much money did you raise?
$601 in a weekend; my goal was $500
Can people still donate?
Yes, by following this link: Victoria Neunsinger: Shaved to cure childhood cancers!
What’s it like to have your head shaved?
It was really uncomfortable at first. After 24 years with hair, it was a huge shock to my system. I would shiver at the slightest change in temperature and even in just a slight breeze.
More Q & A…
Why did you choose paramedicine as your career field?
I was actually going to continue my education and go back to Italy. I expressed interest in the medical field and becoming a paramedic to a friend, and he convinced me to take an EMT class. Since it couldn’t hurt, I decided to take my friend’s advice and after the second week of class, I couldn’t imagine any other decision.
What was it like being an EMS student?
Exhausting, but extremely rewarding. However, it completely ruins watching any emergency hospital TV shows or movies that involve prehospital medicine.
What do you like best about paramedicine?
When I am able to help a patient on one of the worst days of their life and educate them on their disease, or what is happening to them. I also love the people I work with at North Memorial.
EMS program spring semester 2018 start deadline
Paramedic Core Application is due no later than November 3, 2017, by 4 p.m.
What is the most formidable part of your job as a paramedic?
Sometimes people don’t want our help for any number of reasons—even in life-threatening situations. That happens at least once a week.
What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Learning how to take life as it comes.
What would you tell someone who’s thinking about becoming a paramedic?
Get as much life experience as you can before you get started. I wish I had been more experienced when I came into the EMS program. Growing up in Elk River, I didn’t get the chance to meet a lot of people who were different from me.
What person has influenced you the most in life?
My sister, Dorie.
Australia in 2015
Victoria was one of five EMS students who won a La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship and traveled to Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, for an international EMS conference in January 2015. Paramedics and ambulance branches in the U.S. and Australia function in different ways. Those differences were key topics of discussion at the conference.
To learn more, read “Five EMS Students Heading for Australia” on Inver Hills News and “Paramedicine students descend on Bendigo” on the Bendigo Advisor.
About the Inver Hills EMS program
First responders, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are primarily employed in
- Public safety agencies
- Private and public ambulance services
- Fire departments
They provide care in a variety of emergency medical and traumatic situations. With enough education or experience, EMTs and paramedics can become emergency service supervisors, managers, directors or executive directors.
As a program graduate, you are eligible to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) written and practical exams to become certified nationally and in the state of Minnesota.
EMS Information Sessions
Interested in learning more about the exciting career opportunities in the Emergency Medical Services field? Sign up to attend an information session to hear more about our EMT program, Paramedic program, and additional certification opportunities.
Emergency Medical Services Info Session
Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, 12 – 1:30 p.m.
To learn more, contact Jeff Morgan, EMS director, at 651-450-3397
Victoria Neunsinger | 21 Answers
- Favorite season: Fall
- Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Mountains—Italian Alps, Appalachians, Rockies
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Hockey
- Your national bird if you could have one: Golden eagle
- Place you would most like to visit: Australia
- Favorite holiday: New Year’s Eve
- Your national mammal if you could have one: Duck-billed platypus
- Favorite actor or actress: Tim Curry and Betty White
- Favorite band or performing artist: Dessa
- Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Sometimes the most complicated questions have simple answers.”
- Coolest thing in the world: Umbria, a region of central Italy
- Scariest thing in the world: Nothing in particular comes to mind
- Favorite all-time TV show: Doctor Who
- Favorite all-time movie: V for Vendetta
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Raise a family
- Most precious material possession: Safe with old photos
- First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Castle with land in Scotland so I could have a title and be a lady
- Dream occupation: Do it all—jack of all trades; on second thought, I would be an astronaut
- Person you would most like to meet: Betty White
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Play the didgeridoo
- Humankind’s greatest challenge: Kindness
To learn more about the EMS program at Inver Hills, contact:
Director of Emergency Services