Santos, a nursing major, psychology minor who hails from Providence, R.I., is an orientation leader, URI 101 mentor, a peer educator at the Women’s Center, and an employee at Roosevelt Hall, but her most important title is student.
Santos applied to five schools, three of which were in Rhode Island, but URI’s prestigious and competitive College of Nursing stood out.
“I really liked the location of the University, and the fact that it was far away from my hometown but close enough for me to go back if I needed too. The nursing program appealed to me in more ways than one. I really fell in love with what the program had to offer,” said Santos.
Santos’ journey to URI began in the summer before her first year when she was accepted into the Talent Development Program. The Talent Development Program serves high school graduates who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The program requires an intensive 6-week summer academic program prior to the start of the fall semester, during the summer program students take University courses and live on campus. Students who successfully complete the summer program continue their enrollment at URI in the fall.
“The Talent Development program helped me get a sense of what college was going to be like. It allowed me to get ahead of the game and made my transition into college a lot easier. The support from my advisor never stops because she constantly wants me to succeed. The program was such an amazing opportunity for me and I passed with a 3.89 GPA.”
Santos is also a member of the third cohort of the Pathways to Nursing program, class of 2017. Pathways, in conjunction with Talent Development, the Southern Rhode Island Area Health Education Center and the College of Nursing provides essential academic and extracurricular support which has resulted in the graduation of three of its students in May 2014, two of them with honors.
As a first-year student at URI, Santos says she dedicated her life to her studies. While she does not regret taking her class work very seriously she wishes she had the chance to start over again. Midway through her first year Santos says she began to dislike URI and began to think she made the wrong decision.
“As a freshman I barely did anything. I didn’t even join a club or organization on campus. I would go to class, eat at the dining hall and do my homework. Everyday I repeated this,” said Santos.
But then she got involved and everything changed. Santos realized she could have an impact on someone’s life.
“I applied to be a peer educator at the Women’s Center, a URI 101 mentor as well as an orientation leader, and was hired for all three positions. I like to fill up my time with things that I am passionate about. I enjoy helping people and knowing that I am making a difference in their lives is a great feeling.”
Some students might not relish getting up for classes, but Santos lives and breathes academics and takes learning very seriously. She believes that if you are not learning, you are not growing.
“When I leave the classroom, I want the information to resonate with me. I want to be able to walk out of a classroom and have a clear understanding of what the point of the day’s lesson was,” said Santos. “Classes like Honors Introduction to Philosophy 103 and Sociology 242 have allowed me to think differently more now, than I ever did before.”
Santos likes courses that make her change the way she thinks. She takes 5 or 6 classes a semester to guarantee that she is on track to graduate in 2017 from her 5-year nursing program.
“My philosophy professor, Cheryl Foster allowed me to think out of the box, but in a good way. She opened my mind to things that I never had thought about before. Professor Foster provided me with so many valuable resources and was supportive of my peers and me from the first day of class to our last day,” said Santos.
In her nursing classes, Santos knows she is following the right career when she has those “ah-ha” moments. With dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner, Santos says she is not sure if she wants to pursue family health or psychiatric mental health. What she does know is that she wants to save lives.
When classes are over for the day and the weekend is in full swing, Santos finds joy in visiting home to relax, spending time with family and friends and enjoying Mexican cuisine.
“I’m not scared of the future anymore, which has allowed me to be more comfortable with myself. Of course my workload has stayed consistent, but that comes with the territory of my major. College is all about the growing process, and in the end it is so satisfying when you know what you want to do post-graduation. It is like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.”
As a native Rhode Islander, Santos says it would be great if she got offered a job in state after college. However, if she did get offered her dream job on the West Coast she would gladly take it.
With such a busy schedule, Santos finds that balance is everything. Her parents motivate her and her top priority is to make them proud.
“When I have the feeling that I can’t do this anymore I immediately think about my family. They have done so much for me that the least I can do is to try my best and never give up.”
With such an impressive resume and list of extra curricular activities, Santos’ future is looking bright.
“A good thing to remember is that stress can be a good and a bad thing. If you are not afraid of what is ahead, you are not paying attention. If you are not terrified of what’s to come than you are not passionate about your future. You must takes things one step at a time and do things at your own pace. No matter how long it will take you, you can succeed at everything you do.”
This release was written by Caitlin Musselman, a URI Marketing and Communications intern and a public relations and political science major.
URI College of Nursing student Genesis Santos. Photo by Nora Lewis