Senior Success: Nursing major Alaina Goodwin graduates despite spinal cord injury
Alaina Goodwin is not afraid of a challenge. The nursing program at Salve Regina is challenging enough itself — but after suffering a spinal cord injury before her first year in college, Goodwin was faced with the new difficulty of living with a disability while pursuing higher education.
However, Goodwin did not let any physical obstacles hinder her success in her academic career here at Salve Regina. As a Class of 2022 member, she recently graduated with a degree in nursing and a minor in health care administration. In addition, she was honored as a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honors Society.
In her free time during college, Goodwin coached young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities in basketball for Special Olympics, as well as supporting newly injured patients with spinal cord injuries through the recovery process. She was also part of the Student Nursing Organization.
It’s clear that Goodwin’s passion for helping others was not thwarted by her own unique physical challenges. But Goodwin admitted that she had so much apprehension regarding her college experience during her first year and how she would be able to navigate college with a disability.
“I often questioned, ‘How am I going to make it through nursing?'” recalled Goodwin. “‘Will I fit in? Will I be able to do all of the things my other students can?’”
Goodwin noted that Dr. Terri Legare, assistant professor of nursing had a tremendous impact on her confidence. Dr. Legare assured Goodwin that she was strong enough to be a nurse and that her peers and the faculty of the nursing department would be with her every step of the way.
“She was right,” Goodwin said. “Everyone was there for me …. My physical abilities were never questioned, as all of my classmates and professors believed in me.”
Goodwin noted that her most memorable experiences at Salve Regina were her clinicals and the amazing support she received from her professors and classmates, who pushed her to be the best she could be. As a nursing student, she received more complex patients and responsibilities as she progressed in her studies, and she was expected to apply her knowledge from the classroom in real world settings to care for patients. Whenever she needed assistance, somebody was always there for encouragement and guidance.
Faculty members at Salve Regina recognized Goodwin’s achievement with praise.
“Alaina has and will surpass any challenge and will succeed in the nursing profession,” said Dr. Debra Cherubini, assistant professor and chair of the nursing program. “She is most noteworthy of recognition for all that she has accomplished and overcome while being a student at Salve Regina.”
After graduation, Goodwin is striving to pursue a career in outpatient oncology. Her capstone clinical was at the Hudner Oncology Center associated with Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts.
“I loved the atmosphere and being able to build strong relationships with my patients week after week,” said Goodwin.
Eventually, Goodwin’s goal is to become a nurse practitioner at either an oncology practice or a family practice. No matter where the future takes her, her experience at Salve Regina was made special by the friendships she was able to make with classmates, professors and faculty.
“Everyone at Salve made my time so beyond special,” she said. “I can confidently say that these people will be in my life for a very, very long time.”
Article written by student writer Anna K. Downes ’22
Senior Success is part of Salve Success — a series of student success stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Success for more stories.