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Student leader works to bring future nurses together

By : Gina Pellrine

Colleen Traverse

Creating a sense of unity among students in the Decker School of Nursing was Colleen Traverse’s focus as Nursing Student Association president this year.

Traverse, 23, of Niagara Falls, said togetherness is key in the nursing profession. “When there’s more of that, you have happier people all around,” she said.

Traverse, who has accepted a position as a registered nurse at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, transferred into Decker her junior year. She always liked teaching and science and realized that nursing was the perfect fit for her.

“It all just feels right, it all just makes sense,” she said. 

Traverse, who had clinical placements in settings ranging from the obstetrics unit at Lourdes Hospital to a geriatric unit at a nursing home, also participated in a summer course last year in the Dominican Republic. The trip offered her a unique opportunity to work in clinics without basic sanitation or running water, provide home care to patients and communicate using basic Spanish.

“She is honestly a born leader,” said Frances Srnka-Debnar, a clinical lecturer and adviser at Decker. Srnka-Debnar met Traverse when she was a prospective transfer student from Harpur College, and got her involved early on in the NSA.

As association president, Traverse worked to get Decker students more involved, especially freshmen and sophomores taking Decker’s prerequisites. Bonding among nursing students tends to occur during junior and senior years, Traverse said, when students are taking their core classes together. She wants every nursing student, no matter what year, to feel connected and important to Decker.

Traverse said Decker’s program is challenging, just as it should be. “Not just anyone can be a nurse, and you don’t want just anyone to be your nurse,” she said. “As a patient, you want a strong nurse.”

The NSA holds an annual banquet and this year also encouraged students to help out at the SOS Shelter in Binghamton for battered and abused women, participate in the American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Walk and collect pajamas to donate to the Pajama Program for children in need.

The association also organized a panel discussion for freshmen, sophomores and juniors to give them an opportunity to ask questions on topics ranging from books to clinicals, in a laid-back atmosphere. Traverse also helped put together NCLEX review sessions for graduating students.

“Students wanted it, so we did it,” Traverse said.  “We can do it, so why not do it?”
Srnka-Debnar said Traverse leads by example. “I think that no one is more motivated than she is,” Srnka-Debnar said.

Traverse will be working in a renal-pulmonary unit her first year at Duke, and in the Medical Intensive Care Unit her second year.

“It was just like an adrenaline rush,” Traverse said, regarding her interview. “You’re in such demand.  Everybody needs nurses, not just in this country. People need health care, people need good nurses.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08