Burtonsville, Maryland is Dario’s hometown—a place where she had the benefit of watching her grandfather devote his life to helping the underserved community. She is inspired by him to do the same: since graduating from Penn Nursing’s BSN program, she’s been working as a psychiatric nurse at an inpatient unit in Philadelphia. She also has experience working as a mental health crisis counselor for individuals experiencing homelessness.


While it is Dario’s grandfather who inspired her to serve underserved communities, it is her experience in the field of homelessness that led to her decision to devote the rest of her career to working with these communities to decrease health disparities. She says, “When I was working as a mental health crisis counselor, many clients wanted treatment, medication, and support, but did not have the money, transportation, or stable housing to attain any treatment. Additionally, program wait-lists can take years for a person’s name to rise to the top. When they were finally connected to those resources, they improved significantly. Eventually, I hope to open up my own mental health crisis residential program to support underserved communities.”


Building trust and a sense of safety, particularly with patients experiencing mental health challenges, can be arduous. For Dario, her work with a patient who was selectively mute to other nurses but who opened up to her is what she calls her proudest nursing accomplishment. She says, “My patient revealed he was actively suicidal, and we were able to de-escalate and maintain safety. Throughout his stay, we discussed and practiced various coping strategies and techniques. I was so proud to see him smiling and talking with others by the end of his hospital stay and practicing the coping strategies we discussed.”