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New nursing class students bring a range of experiences, goals

Each year, the St. Joseph School of Nursing welcomes a new group of students eager to learn the art and science of nursing. This year, the new class totaled 47 students, each with their own reason for choosing St. Joseph School of Nursing as the place to launch their nursing career.

While each class is different, there are some similarities each year.

“The first day of classes, the students are generally nervous, “said Betty Sadaniantz, DNP, RN, Dean of the School of Nursing. “The room is pretty quiet. But the students quickly get to know the faculty and each other which leads to close bonds being formed. It really does become a family because the environment is very nurturing.”

While the students have all chosen nursing, they each have different reasons for pursuing this career.

Treasure Asian works at a hospital in Rhode Island as a patient account representative. While she is motivated by her interactions with nurses in the workplace, her grandmother is her original inspiration. “My grandmother was a nurse at the VA Hospital and on occasion, I would go to work with her,” said Treasure, who is from Providence. “She loved to spend time with her patients and I got to see that firsthand.”

When Treasure was 12 years old, her grandmother had quadruple bypass surgery. Treasure sat in on the training sessions conducted by a home care nurse and spent the summer caring for her grandmother, changing her bandages, helping with wound care, and spending time monitoring her grandmother’s diabetes.

She chose St. Joseph School of Nursing because of the positive feedback she had heard in the health care community. “I also thought it would be positive to be with one set of classmates throughout the whole experience,” she said. “This way, we can grow and learn from each other.”

Marie Mugwaneza grew up in Africa and moved to the United States in 2008. While living in Togo, she saw her father’s commitment to helping others in his position as a doctor at an international hospital. She remembers one day where she accompanied her father to work and they sat down to take lunch together. After just one bite, her father jumped to his feet to attend to a car accident victim who had just been rushed to the hospital. She recalls her father coaching her through her biology homework as a child.

Her father has since passed away but is never far from her thoughts as she prepares for this new career. “I still hear him talking to me at times as I learn new things,” she said.

Alicia Suprenant from Sturbridge, Mass., transferred from another nursing program in Rhode Island because she heard good things about St. Joseph. She was attracted by the opportunity to have more hands-on clinical experience. It was a trip to Haiti in 2008 as part of a relief delegation that convinced Alicia that caring for others – and nursing – was her calling. Alicia has also worked as a CNA at Fatima Hospital, an affiliate of the School of Nursing, for the past year and has seen the emphasis the hospital places on nursing excellence.

Over the last eight years, Dena Clarke has worked as a CNA in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, and patient’s homes. Dena, who is from Providence, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and is inspired to know all she can about nursing. “I ask the nurses a lot questions,” she said.

Dena’s mother was also a CNA and she feels the hands-on nature of nursing is where she can excel. “I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “It’s exciting because you have a career to build on once you graduate. I chose St. Joe’s because it is more hands-on and that’s how I best learn. I was also attracted to the fact that it is a Catholic institution.”

Scott Mooney has worked as a firefighter in Johnston for the past six years, spending his time on a rescue which often brings him into contact with nursing staff in emergency rooms. “My time with patients is short, but I am frequently able to witness the continued care they receive after leaving my hands,” he said.

Scott was attracted to the “3-+-1” model, where students take three years at St. Joseph School of Nursing and one at Salve Regina University. This allows student to follow the curriculum at St. Joseph, while concurrently taking courses at Salve’s Center for Adult Education. The result is a partnership where St. Joseph nursing students can readily choose to earn their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.

Since starting St. Joseph Nursing School, Scott continues to work as a rescue lieutenant, frequently trading shifts with colleagues to accommodate his busy schedule. The Warwick native believes nursing school will help him in a number of ways. “It will make me a better pre-hospital care provider as I work on the rescue,” he said. “Down the road, it will allow me to continue working in a profession where I can care for people. All along, I knew it was something I wanted to do.”