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Student Spotlight

2015 Stellar Students - Cristina Marie Nazario

Meet Cristina Marie Nazario, an ambitious and outstanding junior in the nursing program at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cristina, a Milwaukee native, was raised with supportive parents who valued the importance of education. “Growing up my parents taught my siblings and I the importance of going to college and having an education. But I never took them seriously until I had a child of my own.”  After Cristina had her daughter, she decided that going to college would be the best thing she could do for both of them.  Cristina’s daughter was the primary motivator to do well in school and become an exceptional role model for her.  “I hope when she grows up, she can look back at all the hard work that she saw me go through and will be encouraged to do the same.”

Cristina made a concerted effort to be an active nursing student.  She became a member of the Hispanic Nurses of Alverno (HNA), a student-based association. As a HNA member she was compelled to be more involved and has served as secretary and is currently the HNA Vice President. “I have taken great pride in my role because it has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people, network with other nursing professionals, strengthen my leadership and communication skills and get involved in my community.” In her role as HNA Vice-President, Cristina has had the opportunity to network and meet nursing students from throughout the state. “I had the chance to attend the Wisconsin Student Nurses Convention for the second year in a row. I decided to run for a position on the state board and was elected as the new Breakthrough to Nursing Director for 2015-2016!” Cristina is thrilled to hold this rewarding position and is looking forward to fulfilling this important role. “My plan is to implement a mentor/mentee program at my college to help retain minority students in the nursing program.” By targeting these students early in the program and giving them a support system to lean on, Cristina is hopeful that the additional support will help underrepresented students succeed in the nursing program. According to Cristina, “having support in college, especially in nursing school, is so important when trying to get through the rigorous program.” “Being able to have people you can count on from which to get advice, or be willing to simply listen to you, is important for every student.”  As a member of HNA, Cristina has been able to build a support system and meet many intelligent and inspiring women who have helped her in many ways.

Cristina shared her struggles with school during her adolescent and high school years. “I have not always gotten the best grades, and math and science have been weak subjects for me. I was the student who spent their recess inside getting help in math.” She shared her gratitude for what HNA and Alverno College have given her. “They have both helped me grow into the person I had always dreamed of becoming as a young girl: a strong, independent leader.”  

Cristina’s decision to pursue nursing as a career was primarily the result of her desire to be part of a profession that makes a difference in people’s lives. “Growing up, I have always looked up to nurses and the hard work they do. The fact that nurses continue to learn new things and help people at their most vulnerable times, makes me believe this is truly the best career for me!”  Her role as a nurse’s aide also contributed to her decision of pursuing a nursing career.  “I had the opportunity to work along side numerous outstanding nurses! I have taken away a little bit from each one of them, which I think will make me a very well rounded nurse. I want a job I will enjoy doing the rest of my life and feel nursing will definitely give me that.”

Cristina is proud of her cultural background and stressed the importance of workforce diversity. “As a Latina, it is especially important for me to work hard and reach my dream of becoming a nurse. I want to motivate other women like myself to feel like they can join the nursing profession. I believe diversity in nursing is very significant, especially since nurses care for a wide array of patients from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. According to the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, a diverse nursing workforce, reflective of the population it serves, can contribute to improved patient access, satisfaction and health outcomes. In my experience as a patient care assistant, if a patient has a caregiver that comes from the same ethnic background and shares the same cultural practices and language as them, the patient and caregiver relationship is so much stronger.”

Cristina has essential advice for current and future nursing students. “Not only is it important to do well in your studies, but it is equally important to be involved on your campus and in the community. All the hard work and sacrifice pays off in the end. This is something I have to remind myself at times when I get overwhelmed and discouraged. As many people know, nursing school can be very demanding and challenging, but with dedication, hard work and support from loved ones, the reward in the end is something that is worthwhile! “Sí, se puede!

Submitted by:
Juanita Terrie Garcia, MEd, RN
Grant Specialist Senior - Pre Award
Patient-Centered Research Sponsored Programs Office
Aurora Research Institute™  
Aurora Sinai Medical Center


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