Class of 2021, CNHS and Honors College
While excelling in her nursing and Honors College studies, Selines Diaz '21 received the Donald C. Howard Student Leadership Award for students who made a lasting impact at UMass Dartmouth.
Feature Stories 2021: Commencement Spotlight: Selines Diaz '21
Commencement Spotlight: Selines Diaz '21

First-generation college student and Honors Nursing major has conducted numerous research projects with plans for a career in neonatal care

“I decided to become a nurse because I wanted a career in which my actions left a lasting impact on someone’s life, gave an individual a fighting chance of survival, and provided dignified end-of-life care,” said Selines Diaz ’21 as she nears the end of her undergraduate nursing education.

A first-generation college student, Diaz made the most of her opportunities at UMass Dartmouth as she excelled academically while taking Honors level courses in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences, participated in research projects with faculty mentors, and assumed campus leadership and volunteer roles, all while working as a senior certified nursing assistant at St. Elizabeth Nursing Center.

Diaz credits time management and careful scheduling for her ability to successfully balance her studies and many research and campus activities. “I knew that if I could manage my time well, I could use the extra time to dedicate to things I was passionate about,” Diaz said.

Education was a priority for Diaz’s family

A native of Boston whose parents are from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, Diaz’s first language was Spanish. “My mother immigrated to the United States for the opportunity for a better life and for her children,” Diaz said. “Although she did not speak English or hold a degree, she knew the value of an education and always ensured that I excelled in school.”

Diaz chose the College of Nursing & Health Sciences at UMass Dartmouth for its accredited nursing program, NCLEX pass scores, and clinical experiences that began during the sophomore year. She completed her clinicals at Charlton Memorial Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Anne’s Hospital, and SouthCoast Behavioral Health as well as a local elementary school.

“As a nurse, you see patients in their most vulnerable state and provide the proper care to bring them back to a state of wellness," said Diaz. "Nurses are patient advocates. They look at all aspects of their lives to help form the best plan that will produce the most good for that patient.” 

Range of research projects conducted with faculty mentors

During her nursing studies, Diaz participated in various research projects, all of which examined the role of the nurse and were based on articles and academic journals from databases and credible sources.

In her first group research project as a sophomore, Diaz examined how students cope with stress and aimed to identify whether they use positive or negative coping mechanisms more frequently.

In an Honors nursing course on pathology and pharmacology, Diaz conducted an independent literature review on a study of how patients’ knowledge of chronic kidney disease and its effects influence their management of the disease.

During her junior year, Diaz participated in a small group project, presented on Scholarship Day, about the effects of electronic cigarettes on adolescents and the role of the school nurse.

As a senior in an adult nursing course, Diaz conducted research on the management of sepsis in endocarditis and developments in nursing that can improve outcomes with a special focus on IV drug users.

For her independent honors thesis, funded by the Office of Undergraduate Research, Diaz studied the benefits and barriers of pregnant women with an addiction seeking treatment and the role of healthcare support.

Honored for academics and campus leadership

In addition to being named to the Dean’s List for multiple semesters, Diaz was selected as the student speaker for her class’s White Coat Ceremony in March 2020. She received the Donald C. Howard Student Leadership Award, given to students who have excelled in their co-curricular experience at UMass Dartmouth and made a lasting impact on the campus.

For three years, Diaz worked as a resident assistant and was Housing and Residential Education secretary. She assisted first-generation nursing students as they acclimated to nursing school by planning events and facilitating group study in STEM classes.

She served as an admissions ambassador for three years, participating in tours, Open House, and Accepted Student Days. She is an orientation leader and peer health educator.

“The majority of the activities I participated in were geared to helping first-year students transition to college or guide them through any situation when they needed help,” Diaz said.

She also volunteered with the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement and joined their Saturday morning community service events.

College was filled with academic and personal growth

“My UMassD experience is one filled with opportunities, growth, and memories,” said Diaz. “I wanted to make sure I took advantage of all the opportunities that were given to me to help me succeed. As I progressed through college, I met many individuals that aided me in my success and supported me through different life obstacles, including my academic advisor and Assistant Professor Monica Schuler, Residential Director Cheryl Viera, and Christine Piva.

“While in college, I learned what it means to have a voice and how to step into my own shoes. Each year, I became more reflective and allowed the lessons and growth from classes to mold me into a more well-rounded individual. The social life on campus allowed me to expand myself and make many friends.”

Diaz hopes to work in neonatal intensive care and become a neonatal nurse practitioner serving the neonatal abstinence syndrome population. She is also interested in becoming a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit.

“I gravitated toward working in an environment of high acuity and caring for those with complex health conditions,” said Diaz. “Within this environment, I want to ensure that each patient has a fighting chance of survival or provide them with dignified end-of-life care.”

She plans to continue research in graduate school. “My goal is to produce more research with vulnerable populations in maternity as it will have a major impact on patient care and outcomes for both mother and baby,” Diaz said.