Commencement 2014: Personal experience inspires URI nursing graduate

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Stoneham, Mass. resident, Lisa D’Amore, inspired to become a nurse because of mother’s battle with breast cancer

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 9, 2014 – Sometimes inspiration comes from the darkest and most unexpected places. This is true for Lisa D’Amore and her journey to become a nurse. Her mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer when she was a sophomore at Stoneham High School in Stoneham, Mass.

“Every three weeks, I would go to my mom’s chemotherapy sessions with her and my dad. It was kind of just then when I was sitting in the chemo-infusion center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, that I realized that being a nurse is what I was destined to do,” said D’Amore who will earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing from URI May 18.

She described the special relationships that she observed between nurses and patients at the hospital. “I was able to see the impact of the nurse on the patients and their ability to comfort someone if they needed it, or provide the patient with a smile. Sometimes it’s all you really need to brighten your day,” stated D’Amore.

By observing and assisting with her mother’s treatment, D’Amore was able to take away a positive from a very negative situation. “It was definitely one of those situations that proves everything happens for a reason. I’m glad that something good stemmed from it. You learn the most from the difficult times in your life,” said D’Amore.

D’Amore applied to more than 10 colleges, but she eventually chose to study nursing at URI. “I just loved the campus feel at URI. I also liked how it was a big campus because I feel that it’s easier to meet and communicate with a variety of people. The University also has a great nursing program, and I felt that there were an endless amount of great opportunities here. URI also has Italian, which is what I really wanted to minor in,” said D’Amore, who is also minoring in Thanatology, the study of death and dying.

D’Amore’s parents were born in Italy and her family speaks Italian. So taking a semester to study there made perfect sense. “I thought the trip was a great experience and I loved every second of it. It was undoubtedly one of the best months of my life. We traveled on the weekends and learned about the culture. I even took some cooking classes. I wish I could have gone longer, but with nursing and clinicals it is difficult to study abroad for an extended period of time,” D’Amore said.

Besides the family connection to the language, D’Amore felt that the trip and her minor in Italian would help her as a nurse. “I thought it would be beneficial to have language as a background when working in a hospital. You see large numbers of Spanish and Italian speaking patients. So I thought it would be useful for therapeutic communication with certain patients,” said D’Amore.

She also traveled out of the country in January of 2013 for a mission trip to Nicaragua. However, when D’Amore is not traveling, she is active on campus. She is the Student Nurses’ Association president, a junior leader, and is in the National Nursing Honor Society, Sigma Theta Tau. D’Amore was also the Rhody Ram for a few athletic games.

Her rigorous academic schedule also keeps her busy. Some of the subject matter, however, was challenging for D’Amore. After her mother’s diagnosis in 2008, she was cancer free for almost five years. In February of 2013, however, she was re-diagnosed with breast cancer, shortly after D’Amore returned home from Nicaragua. A month later, D’Amore’s mother had a right-mastectomy to remove the cancer.

“That was difficult for me in school, especially because we were in maternal health at that time. We would learn about the female reproductive system and breast health. That was really emotional and it made it difficult to focus on that area while studying. At the time, it was something that I wanted to avoid. I was already hearing so much about it,” she explained.

Although her time at the University is coming to a close, Rhode Island and the University will always be special in D’Amore’s eyes. “It’s a small state, but I feel like I’ve gained so much personal and professional experience here. It has a big place in my heart. I’m so happy I chose to come here,” said D’Amore.

As for the future, D’Amore plans to move back home and work at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital while she studies for her licensing exam. She would ideally like to find a job in Boston. “I would love to work in Boston because the city has so much to offer,” she explained.

“I love the ability of being able to help people – nursing related or not. Even if it’s just taking the time to make someone smile when they are in a lot of pain or if they are physically or emotionally uncomfortable. Especially after having been through everything with my mom, it means more personally if I can do the same thing for someone else that someone has done for her,” said D’Amore.

This press release was written by Ashley Henry, a communications major interning in URI’s Marketing and Communications Department.

Pictured above

Lisa D’Amore poses in White Hall

Marketing & Communication photo by Michael Salerno Photography.