Paula Cruz '14 of East Longmeadow, MA, is a nursing major, honors student, and Endeavor Scholar. She is currently interviewing for nurse residency programs, will soon take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses exam, and plans to pursue a Master's in Public Health and a Doctorate in Nurse Practice.
What has it been like to be an Honors student?
I've been a member of the Honors Program since my freshman year, and in my sophomore year, I joined the Honors Student Council. I began with the role of Event Coordinator. This position helped me meet and socialize with more students in the Honors Program.
Then, in my junior year, I was the Associate Student Director. I worked closely with the council members organizing events and developing the program itself.
As a senior, I've stepped down as a general council member and I've been working on my Honors Thesis, which is on The Impact of International Service Learning on UMassD Nursing Students in Study Abroad.
Tell us about something you're involved with here and how it's changed you.
College is the time when you have the ability to build your character and discover your passion.
I'm part of the first cohort of Endeavor Leadership Scholars. This scholarship has taught me how to become a leader. I've immersed myself into the community by volunteering around the SouthCoast area. It has helped me build my character and develop a better understanding of my capabilities. Being an Endeavor Leadership Scholar, I'm taught how to work locally in our community but at the same time become a global thinker.
Why did you choose to attend UMass Dartmouth?
I believe UMass Dartmouth chose me! Before deciding to come to UMass Dartmouth, I was already set to attend a different school until a few weeks before the college decision deadline. I received a letter saying that I had been chosen to receive an Endeavor Leadership Scholarship.
I was surprised to achieve a scholarship that I'd never heard of or even applied for. The Endeavor Scholarship is a full scholarship covering tuition and fees as well as room and board. At first, I was really upset that my parents were trying to persuade me to come here, because I really wanted to go to another school. But after visiting and looking at the benefits of coming to UMass Dartmouth, I found it to be the best choice for me.
First of all, I am very thankful that I was given the scholarship. Second of all, I am proud and glad that I chose to attend UMass Dartmouth!
What are your plans following graduation?
I'm currently interviewing for nurse residency programs and planning on taking the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) as soon as possible. Because of UMass Dartmouth, I've grown to become a big fan of this area. I hope to move near this area in order to continue providing service in the community and possibly work as a nurse. In the future, I plan on getting my Masters in Public Health and my Doctorate in Nurse Practice (DNP).
What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge has been nursing school, but I knew these challenges would be worth it in the end. Growing up, I never had trouble with any of my classes—school came easy for me. I had a lot of trouble adjusting to the nursing program—from learning how to study to taking the exams. But through the challenge, I'm lucky to have professors and peers who were willing to help me through it.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Come in with an open mind. Be ready for the challenges that life and college will throw at you. Just keep in mind that you will not be given a challenge that you won't be able to overcome. College is the time when you have the ability to build your character and discover your passion.