Congratulations, Class of 2019!

Kelly Soto, Class of 2020, School of Nursing Monmouth Campus

On June 14, we celebrated the graduation of our senior class of 2019. This cohort was and continues to be very special to my cohort in particular for a variety of reasons. They were the first ones to welcome us with open arms at the start of the program when we first met them at the summer meet and greet barbecue. Several of them were our very first mentors during our sophomore year when we were still learning the ropes of nursing school, and three of them were our tutors when we were all grappling with the tough concepts of pathophysiology and pharmacology. This post is to highlight all of the achievements of this cohort as a whole as well as to showcase some student profiles from this class that are well-deserving of recognition.

Aside from all of their selfless help and encouragement, not many of us knew very much about the individual paths each of them have taken, what their greatest struggles have been, nor what great accomplishments they have made. In the course of these three years, several life milestones have happened in this cohort such as four marriages, five engagements and the birth of six new babies. Although this has brought an added work load, it did not deter any of them from their pursuing their dream of becoming a nurse, especially when that dream has been with them since they were little.

Jodi Green, Class of 2019, with her daughter.

This was the case with Jodi Green who gave birth to her beautiful baby girl during the nursing program. “My nursing school journey involved many emotions, stress, excitement, and friendships,” she said. “This journey has shown me how strong, determined, and special I truly am.” To anyone who is unfamiliar with the workload in nursing school, believe me when I tell you that it is indeed no small feat to get through it all, even as a single person. For a new mom like Jodi and the others, they are truly special to be able to pull that off. Jodi hopes to work in a Family Birthing Unit and to also become a Lactation Specialist.

Brittney O’Neal is another of these new mommies in the cohort and her story is an inspiring one of juggling new and exciting surprises and of learning to follow where she felt called. She put her pre-requisite studies on pause when she became pregnant with her first child, then later resumed them when her second was just three months old. Her last one pictured here was born during the program and as she stated, her children were a strong motivation for her during the trying times of hormones, sleep deprivation and breast-feeding alongside all of her nursing studies.

Brittney O’Neal (left), her youngest son, and fellow 2019 graduate Heidi Hari.

“I wanted to give my children the life I never had growing up and I wanted to fulfill the calling God had placed in my heart…. Today I am thankful for every hardship, and every battle I had to face to get to where I am now, because it has made me that much better of a nurse” she stated. As for her favorite nursing school accomplishment and memory, Brittney states that it was in all the little things where she discovered the true meaning of nursing. Things such as “Having a patient thank you for taking that extra moment to hold their hand when they are scared, the moment you give a grieving family member a hug after the loss of a loved one, or the moment you show up at your classmate’s house in the middle of night because they needed you. These small accomplishments throughout nursing school that have taught me more about nursing than any textbook ever could, and I am thankful for each one of them” she said.

Others in this cohort had learning experiences that helped to confirm what nursing specialty they want to pursue. Heidi Hari completed a nursing externship at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia and said that the externship was “An amazing experience that enriched my learning and solidified that I do want to pursue a career in emergency nursing.”

I actually knew both Heidi and Brittney from a pre-requisite class we all took at Chemeketa and I fondly remember how studious and determined both of them were even back then. Heidi was and still is known for her amazing sense of humor and her very unique study habits and memorizing skills. She is famous for remembering complex path and pharm concepts with short catch phrases that totally make sense and which no one else would have thought to use. Which brings to light an important point that each one of us in the program all have a common passion for nursing that makes us the same, but we each also have our own individual life experiences, personalities and talents that make us unique. We never lose our own identity that we had prior to entering nursing school, rather we build off of it and learn to utilize our nursing skills through the lens of our individual talents and skills.

Chris Carnett, Class of 2019

Chris Carnett knew that he wanted to try nursing as a career after previous career experiences that not only have drawn him to nursing, they have enriched his clinical skills as well. Chris was in the United States Air Force as a Security Forces Airman and Combat Arms Instructor and was looking for something different when he finished his enlistment. Coming from a family of medical providers, he decided to give healthcare a try and found that he not only had the skills for nursing, he really enjoyed the therapeutic communication and care aspect as well.

“I have learned that every patient is different and has a unique story, and excellent care is not only provided through medical interventions, but also compassionate bed-side care” he said. While in the nursing program, Chris has also participated in the Global Brigades outreach to Honduras which was a week-long mission trip to help impoverished families and communities in need. He has also put his creative arts skills from a previous career to work as the Director of Media in the Monmouth Student Nurses’ Association and he hopes to become a Life Flight Nurse after having some solid high acuity care experience first.

Maria Franco Maciel, Class of 2019

I think every one of us in the program can think of at least one nurse that has positively influenced our lives and encouraged us to pursue this career and Maria Franco Maciel was no different. “I knew I wanted to be in the medical field at a young age after experiencing the compassionate care that was extended to my 7 siblings, my mother and myself from the time we were newly arrived immigrants,” she said. Maria began her journey in various health care fields as a medical assistant, interpreter and mental health care coordinator before entering nursing school. Her motivational story is far from over as she hopes to later go on to graduate school for her Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree and help underserved communities after getting more experience as a nurse first. Maria’s favorite memory was actually the same as Heidi and Jodi’s, which was the time spent with her cohort. “Each and every one of them have forever inspired me and will always have a place in my heart,” Maria stated. “This stands true for my professors, dean and Monmouth support staff, as I know we were a handful :)”

Although all of the students in this cohort have taken vastly different paths, they have each arrived at this same desired destination. They are a beautifully diverse and well-equipped cohort that are now putting into practice the oath they first took at their white coat ceremony three years ago to uphold the integrity of the nursing profession and to fully apply themselves to the care of their patients. Now, their journey to becoming a nurse is over and another is just beginning as they take all of their skills and accomplishments out into the health care field and into society. Congratulations seniors! Your days of countless assignments, Rockstar powered all-nighters and blood, sweat and tears are over and now the real work begins. Be bold and courageous in all the endeavors you undertake and rock that BSN degree with all that you are and all that you’ve got! May you always show accomplishment in the face of adversity, confidence in the face of confusion and doubt, and humility in the practice of having a human life in your hands. No matter how successful and educated you become, never forget that your learning is never finished and our profession is one of honorable service and not of praise and acclamation. I’m honored to have known you guys and I am beyond proud to call you all my fellow OHSU alumni. 🙂  Here’s to the amazing class of 2019 and to their best work yet to come!