Salve Success: Christina DeFalco ’20, nursing major
Article by Emily Whelan ’20
When Christina DeFalco ’20 first learned about Salve Regina University, she knew it was the school she wanted to attend. The combination of the renowned nursing program, the tight-knit community and the one-of-a-kind location sold her from the beginning.
“I was the high school student who looked at and applied to way too many schools, but Salve was always at the top of the list for me,” she said.
DeFalco enrolled as a nursing major and healthcare administration minor in 2016 and got involved with a variety of clubs and organizations right from the start. The Student Nurse Organization, Dialogue Club, the Service Advocate program, Campus Activities Board and SRYou Exposition planning committee are just a few of the groups that have filled up DeFalco’s schedule during the last four years.
Developing leadership skills through Campus Activities Board
DeFalco credits her involvement with Campus Activities Board (CAB) in particular for helping her become the great leader she is today. She began as a general board member her freshman year and quickly moved her way to becoming an associate director, then director, then the vice president of programming and eventually the president of the committee her senior year.
As a member of the Campus Activities Board, DeFalco helped to plan and carry out Salve Regina’s Spring Week and Weekend every April. Complete with carnival rides, bounce houses, petting zoos, cotton candy and food trucks, the week has always been a special event each spring for the University.
“The whole Salve community comes together and has a great time, regardless of their involvement on campus,” DeFalco described.
Many of DeFalco’s accomplishments at Salve Regina are rooted from CAB. The leadership skills she’s learned there helped her to get a job as an orientation leader for two summers, and from there she was able to build relationships that will last a lifetime. These relationships are one of DeFalco’s favorite parts of being at Salve Regina.
“It’s not just my relationships with my friends, but also the faculty, staff and administration that made my time at Salve so special,” DeFalco described.
The nursing department, the Office of Student Engagement, the Office of Student Affairs and the IT department, where she held her work study, all supported her and helped her to become the person she is today.
A passion for critical care nursing and helping children in need
DeFalco’s blossoming interest in critical care nursing stemmed from one of her favorite Salve Regina memories – the Florida Service Trip. Run through the Center for Community Engagement and Service, the week-long experience in Kissimmee, Florida, is open to all Salve Regina students. While there, the students volunteer at two nonprofit organizations called Give Kids the World Village and The Sunshine Foundation.
Both organizations help the dreams of chronically ill, terminally ill and physically challenged children come true. Give Kids the World Village has provided week-long, cost-free vacations for these children and their families since 1986. Similarly, The Sunshine Foundation’s mission is to answer the dreams of these children. Upon their arrival to The Sunshine Foundation, families stay in fairytale-themed cottages and can enjoy handicapped accessible playgrounds, pools and golf courses.
“The families we met were facing some of the hardest times of their lives, but they all had the most positive outlooks on everything. That really resonated with me,” said DeFalco.
DeFalco’s time volunteering at these nonprofits changed her life. “We did everything from cleaning to putting on different-themed shows each night to just talking to the kids and getting to know them,” she said. “Everything was happy there. The kids got to experience a magical week that they were so deserving of. I think that’s when I decided that I wanted to work with these children for the rest of my life.”
Pursuing the future in a graduate nurse residency program
Though DeFalco is sad to leave Newport, she is lucky enough to already have a job lined up after she completes her degree at Salve Regina. Beginning in July 2020, she will enroll in the new graduate nurse residency program at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Connecticut, not too far from her hometown of North Haven. The year-long program will help her smoothly transition from college nursing school to life as a registered nurse.
DeFalco really believes that her classes, clinicals and capstone at Hasboro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, while completing Salve Regina’s nursing program helped her feel prepared for this opportunity at Middlesex Hospital. Though she is unsure which department she will be working in during the program at the hospital, her dream is to ultimately work in either a pediatric emergency department or intensive care unit one day.
DeFalco is grateful for all of the opportunities she has been presented with at Salve Regina. She is confident that her leadership roles, service trips and nursing classes have prepared her for the next chapter of her journey. Because of Salve Regina, she has become a better leader, a better friend and a better nurse.
Each Thursday, SALVEtoday will provide tips for success as well as success stories of current students and alumni to encourage and uplift the University community during this time of remote living and learning. #salvesgotthis #salvesuccess