Iona College Nursing Students Gain Historic Experience Vaccinating 550 People Against COVID-19

New bachelor’s degree program in nursing provides solutions through the pandemic as students “Learn Outside the Lines”

Service-Learning, COVID-19

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Over 550 individuals are now protected against COVID-19 thanks to students in Iona College’s new nursing program. Describing the opportunity to serve their community as both emotional and historic, students said they were grateful for the hands-on experience gained through the pandemic.

“It feels humbling,” said student Nico O’Leary ’21, of New Rochelle, “This has been a horrible year for everyone. So, the fact that we’re able to give back in this way is enormous.”

Her cousin, Amanda O’Leary ’21, of Pleasantville, also enrolled in the nursing program, said it was rewarding “to help everyone move in the right direction and take a step toward normalcy.”

As Iona joins in celebrating National Nurses Week, the College is also busy training the next generation. Iona’s new Bachelor of Science degree program in nursing offers two pathways to a bachelor’s degree: a traditional four-year undergraduate program; and an accelerated, 15-month, second-degree program for students who already have a bachelor’s in another field. Iona accepted its first class of 18 elite, accelerated-degree students in the fall of 2020, and already nursing is the most sought-after program for the fall of 2021.

Dr. Sandra Davé, director of Iona’s Nursing Clinical Arts Center, enlisted the help of students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine over a series of six clinics she set up in her private practice. Davé has been practicing as a family and gerontological nurse practitioner with her husband in New Rochelle for over 20 years, and she started working at Iona when the nursing program launched.

True to the profession of nursing, Davé said it’s all about working to improve the health and well-being of the community – and doing so with compassion. “We had an instance where we actually had a patient burst into tears,” she said. “One of our students went to comfort her, and she was saying, ‘No, no, these are tears of joy.’ And then she spun around and said, ‘Actually, they’re mixed with tears of sorrow, because I lost a lot of people through the pandemic.’”

Bernabe Gonzales Jr. and Rocio Vanegas, of Mamaroneck, received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine together, choosing to get it at the exact same time from the O’Leary cousins.

“It feels good to have a little bit of protection in me,” said Gonzales.

“It feels surreal,” added Vanegas. “But I’m excited to be here, and just get this over with, and hopefully it ends soon. It’s a little emotional, given everyone who has passed away.”

Jonah Murasso ’21, of Eastchester, said the flood of emotions from patients has been common. He added that the vaccination effort has been “a great moment to be a part of. I could not be happier doing what we’re doing here.”

After graduating from Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in integrative neuroscience in 2019, Murasso decided to pursue nursing because of the profession’s versatility and job prospects. He chose Iona’s accelerated program in particular, he said, because of the high caliber of experienced nursing professionals and educators leading the program.

“Looking at all the other nursing programs that are in progress now, we’re one of the only ones that has been able to facilitate having classes in person and going to clinical hours in person,” Murasso said. “We’re one of the only programs that has actually made it into hospitals as students. So, that really validates my choice.”


ABOUT IONA NURSING
Iona College’s rigorous, values-oriented Bachelor of Science degree program in nursing offers two pathways to a bachelor’s degree: a traditional four-year undergraduate program open to both freshmen and transfers; and an accelerated, 15-month, second-degree program for students who already have a bachelor’s in another field. Both pathways prepare graduates to sit for the National Certification and Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Iona’s nursing program is housed in a state-of-the-art, 7,500 square-foot learning facility complete with all of the newest equipment, technology and simulated learning opportunities. Small-group, clinical instructional settings with an 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio ensure personalized attention. Iona accepted its first class of 18 elite, accelerated-degree students for the fall 2020 semester, and already nursing is the most sought-after program for the fall of 2021. Learn more at www.iona.edu/nursing.

ABOUT IONA
Founded in 1940, Iona College is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre campus is just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2021.” Iona College also recently launched a new, fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility.