Audrey K. Guarino is a student in the second degree accelerated BSN program at Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. Audrey, who is from Norristown, Pa., earned her initial Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology and Spanish from Temple University. She then did missionary work in disaster-stricken countries where she provided both medical and humanitarian in the Caribbean and Latin America following hurricanes, earthquakes, and war. “The most impactful trip was stateside to Dickinson, Texas where we helped rebuild a home destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. I tend to return home from these trips having received more than I gave, leaving with unfathomable gratitude and learning the power of choosing joy,” Audrey says.
Audrey is among our inaugural cohort of Conway Scholars, a program established for a five-year period through the generosity of Joanne and William E. Conway, Jr. where 40 scholarships are being awarded over each year to Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing students through the Joanne and William Conway Scholarship Program.
Below, Audrey shares some of her experiences and goals in nursing.
What motivated you to become a nurse? Healthcare has always been my career goal, but I wasn’t sure what my niche was until a few years ago. I feel that nursing was finally given the raw, realistic spotlight it deserves during the pandemic, and this is when I felt my calling to enter nursing.
Why did you choose Villanova Nursing for your nursing degree? I chose Villanova after attending the accepted students meeting and hearing the wonderful experiences of students who were in the program at the time. The community they described in both the College of Nursing and the University as a whole was a feeling I didn’t find elsewhere. I made the BEST choice by coming to Villanova!
What additional activities have you been involved in while at Villanova? Though I was only here 14 months, the impact of the opportunities Villanova offered will last a lifetime. In November, I attended the Student Nursing Association of Pennsylvania convention in the Poconos where a classmate and I wrote a health policy which was adopted by the state board! In April, our policy then was presented to the National Student Nurses Association in Nashville, Tenn. where it was adopted unanimously on the national level. This policy encourages nursing schools to promote awareness and education of how nursing students can be more involved with stopping the stigma surrounding mental health among their collegiate athlete peers. In June, several classmates and I headed out to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Mont. to complete our community health clinical rotation. There, we provided education to students while also learning about their history, culture and unique experiences with traditional and modern healthcare.
What have you enjoyed about the program? Everything! In all seriousness, this program was amazing. What’s special about the second-degree program is that we all came from different walks of life and relied on each other’s experience to apply that into our nursing practice. The staff was genuinely invested in learning our stories and using them to help us find our niche in the nursing field. The intensity of the program allowed for deep connections to be made with my classmates and professors and I look forward to being their colleagues soon!
What’s been challenging? What was challenging was quickly finding a balance between academics, work and self-care. Fortunately, the admissions staff were very up front about the pace and expectations of students, so I was able to plan ahead when tackling the challenge of time management.
What difference has being a Conway Scholar made in your education experience? I am incredibly grateful to be a Conway Scholar because of the relief it provided during the program. Because of the financial assistance I received, I was able to work less and focus more on my studies. The scholarship relieved many burdens, and as a result, my studies were stronger, and I was able to give my patients the best care I possibly could as a nursing student.
What are your career goals in nursing? Initially, I’d love to end up in a cardiac intensive care unit. As I get older and my lifestyle changes, I can see myself doing community health nursing in underprivileged communities, both stateside and internationally.
What advice would you share with a future student? Breathe! Take the program one day at a time. Join nursing clubs, attend talks with guest speakers, and rely on your professors when you need guidance/advice.
Anything else you’d like to add? THANK YOU, Villanova and Conway family, for this unforgettable experience.