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Manchester nursing students at the Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Manchester Nursing Students Give Back at Relay for Life

  • Kelly McGuire BSN ‘18, Ritti Oommen BSN ‘18, Elizabeth Chase BSN ‘18, and Erwin Chavez BSN ‘18 share more than a common major. The four friends are officers in Nursing Students Without Borders (NSWB), and are passionate community volunteers, working with organizations and events as varied as Camp Sunshine, the MS Walk, and the “Be the Match” bone marrow drive. In August, all four will travel to Ecuador on a medical mission trip; closer to home, they recently kept busy with the Relay For Life. We sat down to learn more about what drives these dynamic students.

    Let’s start by talking about the Relay for Life team that you organized. What is the goal of Relay For Life, and how is it structured?

    McGuire: The Relay For Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Basically, teams come together to continuously walk around a track for a given number of hours, usually at least overnight.

    Oommen: Every hour of the event features a different theme or activity. We were in charge of the Christmas-themed hour—so when we walked in, they started playing Christmas songs. Incidentally, we’d all had clinicals that morning, so we were all really tired.

    McGuire: We were there from about 1 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning; throughout that period there were people constantly walking.

    Can you describe the atmosphere?

    Chase: It’s generally pretty jolly, actually. We try to have a fun activity every hour. After it gets dark, about half the track is quiet so that people can get some rest if they need it, and the other half is pretty noisy.

    McGuire: The people who run the event are great at keeping the energy up.

    Oommen: Cancer survivors usually kick off the walk, which is really moving.

    Was it challenging to assemble a team? How did the team end up performing?

    Chase: It was a little challenging, because we’re all in the accelerated program; so it’s difficult to dedicate a full weekend.

    Oommen: Plus, predicting schedules is hard; we had two 12-hour clinical shifts scheduled, which was tough timing.

    McGuire: We tried to respect people’s time; since we all had an exam on Monday afternoon, we participated in shifts.

    Chase: But all that said, we did pretty well. We raised a couple hundred bucks and stayed about twelve hours, as a team!

    Were there any lasting lessons that you feel you could carry forward from that experience?

    McGuire: I’ve done other events like this in the past; I like seeing how much it means to the survivors and their families. That always makes me want to do more.

    Oommen: My mom is a cancer survivor, so I know what these kind of events mean to families—because we are one. It means a lot to help the ACS support people who can’t pay for their treatment.

    Let’s shift gears a bit to talk about your MCPHS experience. What is particularly challenging—and rewarding—about being in the nursing program?

    Chase: For me, it has been great meeting a variety of people. We’re all post-baccalaureates, and some of us have had very different career experiences before coming to nursing. We do a good job of staying well-rounded, and that will, I think, make us better nurses.

    Chavez: I’ve really learned who I am through this program. I’m still not sure which field I want to go into, but clinicals give you the opportunity to figure out what kind of nurse you want to be. I just held a baby for the first time yesterday, which was pretty exciting. It’s a challenge to maintain a social life with the intense scheduling, but we have a very supportive cohort.

    Oommen: It’s a fast-paced program. You’re either studying or having a clinical every day, so it’s hard to make time for events. But we have our advisers’ and professors’ help and support.

    McGuire: I worked for five years before I came to MCPHS, so I knew that I really wanted to pursue a nursing career. Seeing what I want becoming a reality is really rewarding.

    What are you looking forward to most, in the near future and more generally in your careers?

    Chavez: Every day is different—you don’t know what you’re going to get when you walk into a patient’s room.

    Oommen: I’m looking forward to seeing where I work and what field I end up in.

    McGuire: I’m looking forward to having interactions with families and patients as a nurse, not just as a student.

    Chase: In terms of graduation, I’m excited about the sense of achievement. I’m really looking forward to making my family proud.

    The Postbaccalaureate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offers an immersive education that prepares students for an exciting career as a registered nurse.