Mary Brown ‘19: Standout student-athlete and aspiring emergency nurse

Successfully balanced collegiate athletics and nursing studies

Mary Brown standing in the library
College of Nursing student and field hockey captain Mary Brown '19 successfully balanced her commitment to her team and her nursing training. Photo credit: Tailyn Clark ’19

When athletic success transfers to academics, it’s not merely by accident. A combination of motivation, dedication, and expert time management can play a big part.

That’s how it worked for Dean’s List and Chancellor’s List scholar and field hockey captain Mary Brown ’19 of Leicester, MA. A nursing major, Brown admits that juggling collegiate athletics and academics was the most challenging thing she’s ever done.

“I was committed to being the best athlete I could be for my team, and I was committed to doing well in the classroom. So, I did everything in my power achieve that. I learned how to become a master of time management, which I believe will be beneficial in my career as a nurse,” Brown said.

“I used time in between classes and before practices to study. I completed assignments on the bus rides to and from games. I read while doing treatments in the training room. I followed a strict schedule which I believe was my key to success. Finding friends and teammates to study with always makes it easier,” she added.

Adhering to a strict schedule paid off for Brown. She was awarded Fall All-Academic honors for her sophomore, junior, and senior years and was her team’s top goal scorer her senior year. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing, a Commonwealth Scholar, and a recipient of the UMass Abigail Adams Scholarship.

“Mary Brown is the epitome of what a student athlete should be,” said Head Field Hockey Coach Linée Mello-Frost. “She is strong and hard-working, not only on the field, but also in the classroom.”

Younger brother inspired her to become a nurse

Brown has wanted to become a nurse for as long as she can remember. Her younger brother, A.J., was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was two years old, which sparked her interest in the medical field.

Her honors research project, “Understanding the Experience of Collegiate Athletics with Type I Diabetes Mellitus: A Qualitative Descriptive Study” focused on the experiences of college athletes diagnosed with Type I diabetes. The topic hit close to home, and Brown discovered future implications for research and practice.

Strong clinical experiences prepared Brown for senior mentorship

Brown did her clinicals at hospitals within the Southcoast system and developed a strong foundation in nursing skills. She learned how to talk to patients, advocate for them, and care for them. “I learned a lot by attending lectures and reading my textbooks, however clinical experiences are what really helped to apply what I was learning,” she said.

All nursing students work with an experienced mentor during their last semester at UMassD. Brown worked with her mentor in the emergency department (ED) at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and found her calling—emergency nursing.

“Senior mentorship is amazing as you can truly see how far you have come from your first day of class,” Brown said.

Under the direction of her preceptor, Brown learned to care for a wide variety of the patient population, from assessment to treatment.

“I am attracted to the fast-paced environment and the ever-changing population,” Brown said of the ED. One day, you may have mildly ill patients and the next you may encounter someone fighting for their life. In the ED, it is important to be aware and ready to do whatever your next patient may need.

“There is a lot of emotion in ED nursing. Sometimes, you see incredible turnouts, which pull on your heartstrings. However, there are times when you may be there to deliver bad news which can be devastating,” she added.

Mary Brown running with her field hockey stick toward the ball on the field
Mary Brown '19 was the captain and leading scorer for her UMassD field hockey team during her senior year.

Combining athletics and academics

“My involvement in athletics was a huge part of my UMassD experience,” Brown said. “Having the opportunity to play the sport that I love while getting a great education is what I am most grateful for. I have been able to push myself past limits I didn’t know possible. I’ve been able to apply this growth to all aspects of my life and build confidence that I can achieve things that may seem impossible.”

“As a student athlete and an honor student, Mary shines and is an example to other students,” said Maryellen Brisbois, assistant professor of nursing. “She has a bright future.” 

College of Nursing faculty, Brown said, genuinely care about their students. “It is truly incredible to see the lengths my professors go through to help us succeed.”

Brown’s fellow nursing students also provided strong support. “I was lucky enough to have some of the smartest, hardest-working, and kindest peers during my time here,” Brown said. “You meet about 100 strangers on your first day of class, but these strangers quickly become your friends that you look to for support, whether during class, at clinical, in the library, or just in life itself. There is a sense of community that I have found to be vital to my success in this program.”

Attending UMass Dartmouth was an easy choice for Brown, where she could major in nursing and continue playing field hockey. When she was accepted into the Honors Program, she was sold. “I have been able to achieve all of my goals throughout four years here. Looking back, the decision to come to UMassD was the best decision I could have ever made for myself,” Brown said.


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