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Michelle Nigro, Nu’20

“My journey as a nurse began November of my freshman year at Penn. The first couple of months, I was feeling lost. Should I be studying something else? How do I know that this is right for me? Despite some hesitations about my major, I knew I wanted to be involved with Student Nurses at Penn (SNAP).

I volunteered to serve on the Legislative Committee, and worked with 2 other students to write a Resolution that would be presented to the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania at the annual Convention that proposed SNAP taking a stance on limiting processed red meat due to its carcinogenic effects. Even though I was “just” a freshman attending my first ever conference, I got up in front of the House of Delegates and gave a speech in support of the resolution. It faced opposition from many delegates, but after a close vote, it was passed. From that moment on, I was hooked on exploring more about the impact nurses can have.

Through SNAP, I attended more state conventions and the annual conventions of the National Student Nurses Association. At these conventions, I was inspired by nurse innovators and leaders speaking about the necessity of the nursing voice not only at the bedside, but also on hospital boards, government organizations, academia, and in non-traditional sectors. It was emphasized that without well-placed nursing leaders, nursing can be invisible, and I took that to heart. Through these conventions, I knew I wanted to be a leader who would advocate for my patients and the profession, but I had to first become more confident. For a lot of my first and second year at Penn, I was constantly comparing myself to others, which really shook my confidence because no matter what I did, I wasn’t doing as well as x or wasn’t involved in this like y. Thankfully, I had the support of incredible professors in the School of Nursing who took the time to get to know me. Although their influence encouraged me to dream big and require more of myself, they were always supportive when I was struggling. Because they believed in me, I believed in myself. Getting involved with SNAP Board also helped me become more confident because I gained experience bringing ideas to a table, addressing concerns and coming up with solutions, organizing events, and bringing people together.

Although I am not clear where my career will take me, my involvement with Legislation and SNAP has defined who I am as a person and a nurse, and I know no matter what I end up pursuing, I am well-equipped to promote health and amplify nursing.”

To submit your own story, visit: www.nursing.upenn.edu/humans.