Feature Stories 2016: Shereen Cruz: Growing personally and professionally

updated photo of Shereen Cruz, nursing uniform
Feature Stories 2016: Shereen Cruz: Growing personally and professionally
Shereen Cruz: Growing personally and professionally

Shereen Cruz '16 gained experience on a service trip to Haiti and in researching diabetes.

Year: Class of 2016
Major: Nursing
Hometown: East Longmeadow, MA
Leadership: Honors Council
Service: Nursing mission to Haiti
Next steps: National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam 

Service-learning trip to Haiti

Every patient I’ve taken care of during my nursing education has made an impact on my life, and they’ve helped me just as much as I’ve helped them.

The challenge in nursing is accepting that you can only do so much for someone. However, the benefit is understanding that no matter how big or small your act of service may have been, it could have made all the difference in someone’s life.

During spring break of my junior year, I was part of a group of UMassD nursing students chosen to travel to Blanchard, Haiti to provide health services, in partnership with Haitian nurses and medical staff at the PID clinic.

The trip was part of my Community Health Nursing clinical, and was led by UMassD nursing faculty and providers.

It was such a humbling and rewarding experience that I truly believe helped me to grow personally and professionally. I learned so much about myself on that trip, and I brought back the true value of patience, hope, and appreciation of life.

I plan to apply these values to my future nursing practice by having the patience to care for patients, being hopeful that everything in life will work out in the end, and appreciating everything that I have and I am capable of doing.

The word “life-changing” seems overused, but it’s an understatement in my opinion.

Nursing research

I initially learned about research in NUR 214: Scholarly Inquiry. My group conducted the study “Stress vs. Extra-curricular Activities” on our sophomore nursing classmates. This was the first project I presented at the UMass Amherst Undergraduate Research Conference.

As part of my Community Health Nursing clinical course, five other nursing students and I conducted an aggregate health promotion project. “Breastfeeding in Haiti” sought to promote best breastfeeding practices among breastfeeding mothers at the Partners in Development (PID) clinic in Blanchard, Haiti.

A culturally sensitive canvas poster was created and displayed at the Haiti clinic, and an educational paper poster was created for the College of Nursing Scholarship Day.

Researching diabetes knowledge

Working on my honors thesis project “The Relationship Between Health Literacy, Patient Activation, and Diabetes Management in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes” helped me strive to learn and engage in a personal topic of interest.

The objective of my study was to test diabetes knowledge and behaviors, specifically health literacy and patient activation, in Type 2 diabetics from the local area. I was awarded a grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). The grant enriched my study and endorsed successful recruitment of participants.

I was able to work closely alongside one of my nursing professors, who at the same time was teaching me lifelong skills of independence and preparing me for professional nursing.

I plan to present my research again at the UMass Amherst Undergraduate Research Conference, at Honors Convocation, and also at the College of Nursing Scholarship Day.

Choosing UMass Dartmouth

I chose to attend UMass Dartmouth because not only was it the school that gave me the best offer money-wise, but it was also a school that was not too close or too far from my hometown.

I received the Chancellor's Merit Scholarship for all four years, and UMass Dartmouth also has one of the best nursing programs out of all the schools I applied to.

The location of the school is very convenient, with all the stores and restaurants available to us. Even though we get remarks about how "ugly" our school is structurally, I like how our campus is enclosed and not too large like most other schools.

My older sister also attended UMass Dartmouth, so it was helpful that I was somewhat already familiar with the school.

Benefits of the Honors Program

There are many opportunities available to honors students, such as smaller class sizes and closer relationships with honors professors, as well as becoming part of an influential student group that continually works towards making positive changes within the program.

The council works hard during the semester to plan engaging social, academic, and community service activities for the honors community. As secretary, I kept track of honors event attendances and recorded and documented what we discussed during weekly meetings. 

Gaining independence, learning strengths

Similar to most, coming to this university was the first time I actually gained independence and responsibility for myself. This is the time where you learn about your strengths and weaknesses as an individual.

Living on campus has definitely played a huge role in my college experience. Living in the dorms/apartments has allowed me to get more involved with my studies, while also being able to make some of the best memories of my life with great people who share my same goals in life.

Next steps: Registered nurses exam

I'm currently completing my senior nursing mentorship in the operating room at Women and Infants in Providence, RI.

After graduation, I plan to study and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam as soon as possible. I'm open to either staying near my hometown to work or relocating to where I'm hired as an RN.

Ultimately, I'd like to be very skilled and/or certified in the nursing speciality I get into. I'd also like to have a greater understanding of this industry, while continuing to love my chosen profession.

More Information

College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Honors Program

Office of Undergraduate Research

Living on campus