Outside the classroom, 11 nursing students are learning leadership, public relations, sales and communication skills as members of the Nursing Ambassadors.
“These energetic and talented nursing students represent the College at University open houses, welcome days, lectures and special donor and stewardship programs,” said Michaela Mooney, interim assistant dean of the College of Nursing.
This weekend, they will be volunteering at the College’s 65th anniversary celebration, Denim N’ Diamonds, at the Newport Marriott and soon they will be calling accepted students to welcome them to URI and its College of Nursing.
“We had nine students at each University Open House, and they were so welcoming and warm,” Mooney said. “Our students and the connections they make with prospective students and their families are the best way to market the College.”
While Mooney said she is in the process of revamping the process, the basic goal of the program will remain—recruiting enthusiastic nursing students to help promote the College while at the same time giving the students valuable experience.
Starting in their sophomore year, nursing students may apply to be a volunteer member of the group. If they stay with the program as juniors and seniors, they can earn one community service credit each year. During their training, the ambassadors are told to answer questions honestly so that visitors have an accurate perception of URI and the nursing program.
“I remember seeing and talking with students from the College when I came to visit,” said junior ambassador Amber Zebe of Colts Neck, N.J. “They made me feel so welcome, and they were so helpful. Then, when I was a sophomore, two upper-class women came to recruit for the ambassadors, and I remember how I looked up to them and how they helped me when I first came to URI. Now when I do phonathons to call our accepted students, they and their parents are very impressed with my knowledge of URI and the nursing program.”
Senior ambassador Frances Wright of Groton, Conn., said the personal touch by the nursing students heavily influenced her decision to come to URI.
“I applied to Quinnipiac and UMass, but neither school had a nursing student contact me,” Wright said. “The call from URI was so nice. We had a great chat, and I think a bond developed quickly.”
Junior ambassador Allison Regan of Babylon, N.Y., said prospective students and their parents express worries that they won’t have a social life at URI with such a demanding major.
“I tell them we work hard and get our work done, but we also have time to have fun and get together outside of class,” Regan said.
The ambassadors were unanimous in their support of the URI learning communities set up for them in Peck and Hutchinson residence halls. Learning communities are made up of students in a common major who reside in the same residence hall or halls. By putting students pursuing the same majors in the same residence halls, students are more apt to form informal study groups and strong social bonds, both of which have been linked student success and retention.
At first, Alyssa Marquez of Lincoln was not in a nursing learning community.
“I found myself always walking to Peck to study and meet with my nursing friends,” Marquez said. “A lot of parents worry about their kids adjusting, but in the learning communities, you make friends quickly with other nursing students because we all have the same worries and demands. When we’re all studying together in our pajamas and laughing, it makes the hard work that much easier.”
Liz Falk, a senior nursing student from Clinton, Conn., said the ability to talk to people when they are anxious about starting their nursing careers at URI is good practice for working as health care professionals.
“We are all going to need good communication skills to talk with patients and family members about difficult health issues. We have to be prepared to talk with parents in a pediatric intensive care unit.”
Other ambassadors are: sophomore Meghan Costa of Cumberland, junior Kathryn Paquin of Johnston, junior Nicole Smith of Charlton, Mass., sophomore Simone Tessier of Cranston and sophomore Brenna Walsh of Salem, N.H.
AMBASSADORS FOR NURSING: University of Rhode Island Nursing Ambassadors pause for a photo during a recent meeting. Seated from left are Liz Falk of Clinton, Conn., Brenna Walsh of Salem, N.H., Simone Tessier of Cranston and Amber Zebe of Colts Neck, N.J. Standing from left are: Frances Wright of Groton, Conn., Nicole Smith of Charlton, Mass., Allison Regan of Babylon, N.Y., Meghan Costa of Cumberland, Alyssa Marquez of Lincoln, Casey Holden of Winthrop, Mass. and Kathryn Paquin of Johnston.
MAKING A POINT: Amber Zebe of Colts Neck, N.J., right, talks about her experiences as a URI Nursing Ambassador while fellow ambassador Simone Tessier of Cranston, listens.
URI Department of Communications & Marketing photos by Michael Salerno Photography.