genevie kocourek

Photo: Coral Von Zumwait

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Go Back to School in Your 50s
In high school, Genevie Kocourek dreamed of becoming a doctor, until a guidance counselor insisted that it wasn't "appropriate" for a woman. Then in 2000, she enrolled in a wilderness first-responder course and had an epiphany.

"It was 38 degrees and raining," she recalls of the course, "and I was having the time of my life!" When she learned that her employer was offering early retirement, she mulled "retiring" to a brand-new career. She first took premed courses such as chemistry on her lunch break while working as an information technology director or at night. But by 2004, she'd retired from her IT job, taken out a loan and enrolled as a first-year student at the University of Wisconsin's medical school. She nearly quit during her third-year rotations, when she worked two days at a stretch, with no time for exercise and little contact with friends and family. She stuck it out and in 2011, after finishing her residency, she founded her own holistic medicine practice, which combines traditional medicine with alternative therapies like massage and acupuncture. Says Kocourek: "The process of getting here was exactly what it needed to be—humbling, exhausting and wondrous."