Student Success Stories - Damaris Sanchez Luna
For Damaris Sanchez Luna, RN, being a nurse allows her to touch lives, to make a difference by caring for people in a time of need.
And her life is touched as well. She said the vast opportunities available as a nurse -- whether it be pediatrics, geriatrics, community nursing, education, mental health nursing, occupational, home health, oncology, maternity -- will always provide her the chance to follow her dreams, no matter what direction they lead her.
“All roads ultimately end with patient care,” Damaris said. “I love the idea that no matter what part of nursing I may choose, someway, somehow I will be an influence in someone’s life, and vice versa.”
Born and raised in Puerto Rico until age six, Damaris lived in Florida for two years before moving to Salem County at age eight. She was educated in the Penns Grove - Carneys Point Regional School District, graduating from Penns Grove High School in 2006.
Damaris entered Salem Community College right after graduation. As part of the NJ STARS program, Damaris had a precise plan of action. “Even though my schedule was hectic, I managed to work full time and have a full credit load,” she said.
Prior to her high school graduation, she chose to attend a SAT/College Prep program at SCC called Rising Stars. Then, at SCC, she finished all her prerequisites in a year and attended classes through the summers to finish the Practical Nursing and Associate Degree in Nursing programs at SCC in five semesters.
Damaris excelled at Salem Community College. She earned Dean’s List and President’s Citation recognition, and received an Alumni Association book grant for fall 2008. During her final year, she was voted as the vice-president of the Student Nurse Organization. As such, she helped the group raise funds for scholarships to SCC nursing students.
She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges, in 2008-2009 and was elected the Class of 2009’s speaker at Commencement. At the 2009 ADN pinning ceremony, she was honored with the Nursing Faculty Award which included a scholarship and she was awarded the NJ State Nurses Association Region 5 Leadership Award for 2009.
“Over this summer, I was asked by Dean of Student Affairs Maralyn Mason to come speak to the Rising Stars of 2009,” she said. “This gave me a chance to serve as a motivational speaker and role model for inspiring college students.”
Today, Damaris is working at South Jersey Hospital as a Registered Nurse. This fall she is temporarily employed with Maxim Healthcare and also Mollen Immunization as a Wellness Nurse for the 2009-2010 flu season.
“I feel that choosing nursing and being able to begin such a rewarding career at only 20 years of age is an accomplishment in itself,” she said. “In the small amount of time that I have been a nurse, I have been able to help people reach their healthcare goals and can truly say that I have learned the significance of what a ‘Thank-you’ can mean.”
Damaris said that Salem Community College played an indispensable role in preparing her for her new career.
“I believe SCC provides a quality education that not many other community colleges offer,” she said. “The atmosphere at SCC can make any person, of any age, of any race, feel right at home.”