Seeking challenge: a Presidential Scholar's story

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Kristina Terzakis is a sophomore from Andover, Massachusetts who is one of the Presidential Scholars in the nursing program. Her active campus life followed a variety of experiences as a young person.

Prior to college, Kristina was president of her church youth group, rowed competitively in the Greater Lawrence Rowing Club, and was fortunate to travel to various countries throughout the world including Spain, Portugal, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece and Costa Rica. She also mentored children with autism, coordinated a holiday toy drive for children in homeless shelters, volunteered at local soup kitchens and shelters as well as at a local hospital, and served on a mission trip.  

It’s no surprise Kristina has launched an equally impressive college experience. Here at Villanova, she is involved in RUIBAL, which is a tutoring program for students at schools in inner city Philadelphia. Kristina has also been a Local Program Host (LPH) for Special Olympics Fall Festival on campus. She is actively involved in the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP), the running club, and the Campus Activities Team (CAT) as well.

Kristina has a unique path of personal experiences that lead her to choose nursing, explaining. “As a result of my own medical history, I know what it feels like to be a patient and how frustrating and stressful it can be to be in the hospital. When I was three years old, routine ear surgery went wrong and I endured four operations between the ages of three and fourteen in order to repair a perforation that the tube had made. The kindness and compassion of the staff have stayed with me, and now that I have embarked on my college career, I am compelled to further explore my interest in the health profession.” She did just that in an impressive way.

In the summer prior to her junior year of high school, Kristina volunteered at Falmouth Hospital in Massachusetts as an aide to the nurses on the medical and surgical floors. Her enjoyable work at Falmouth Hospital prompted her to apply to the Tufts University Health Science Honors Program that following summer.  As a result of all of these experiences, she knew she wanted to continue her work in the healthcare world and pursue a degree in nursing.

From the beginning, Kristina’s favorite thing about Villanova was the welcoming and accepting nature of the student body. She was also  drawn to the structure of the nursing program. She was excited about the idea of immersion into the clinical and simulation experiences, starting in the freshman year of the program.  Kristina says, “I chose Villanova for its challenging academics, strong nursing program, and the sense of community that I felt here. Undoubtedly, I knew that Villanova’s curriculum would challenge and push me beyond my limits so that I could grow both as a student and as an individual. The students here are dedicated to service, put others first, and are very involved and invested in their school and local community. From the first day of orientation, I have felt very comfortable and at home here.” 

Kristina's academic strengths have been evident both on and off campus. Last summer, she was an intern at Massachusetts General Hospital where she worked on a research project conducted in conjunction with the Brown/ Purdon Labs in Boston in the Department of Anesthesiology. The project was a study of the effects of anesthesia on pediatrics patients' brain activity (measured through EEGs) and how it differs from adults.  In the fall, the abstract from the project won a first place award for best student research paper in the Department of Anesthesia at Mass General. 

In Kristina's year and a half in the nursing program, she has noted Villanova’s strong focus on providing excellent care to all patients and the importance of preserving dignity. She notes, “From communication skills to patient confidentiality, the patient’s wellbeing and needs are placed high above all else. The nurse is instrumental in initiating this process and making the patient feel at ease.”Kristina is a compassionate and dedicated student who well represents the mission and values of the College of Nursing. After graduation, Kristina plans to continue her nursing studies and become a either a nurse anesthetist or pediatric nurse practitioner.