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#YouMaine: Nursing student embraces stepping outside of her comfort zone in college

For first-year student Aaliyah Cruz, her rigorous schedule is actually an advantage. The University of Maine has provided her with opportunities for community and creative expression, as well as the chance to explore the hidden attractions Orono and Old Town have to offer. 

Only an hour away from her hometown of Waterville, Maine, Cruz is in the nursing program here at UMaine. This nursing program is known as one of the most exclusive programs in the state of Maine, yet UMaine nursing graduates make up the highest percentage of certified nurses in the state. Cruz passionately expresses her goal of becoming a traveling nurse.

“I’ve always known I wanted to go into the medical field,” Cruz said. “I just really wanted to be able to help others.” 

Currently, Cruz’s favorite class is a microbiology class where she will be examining and handling samples of bacteria and pathogens. Another one of her classes teaches her how to correctly administer doses of medicine to patients. Together, these two classes are preparing her for a career in nursing by strengthening her skills in both assessing patients accurately while maintaining a compassionate bedside manner.

In addition to Cruz’s rigorous nursing courses, she tackles an even heavier course load as an Honors College student. A busy schedule like hers makes the time she has available even more valuable. To unwind from stressful days, Cruz enjoys drawing, as well as spending time with her friends driving around Orono and Old Town. 

“I feel that being at the University of Maine has allowed me to grow out of my shell more and more each day,” Cruz said. 

With only one semester completed so far at UMaine, Cruz is already highly involved on campus. So far, she has joined the Alpha Kappa chapter of the Tri-Delta sorority, where she and her fellow sorority sisters connect and collaborate. UMaine’s Tri Delta chapter embraces values such as being oneself and encourages being passionate about helping others, which Cruz values highly. To top it all off, she meets every Thursday to discuss world politics with the rest of the UMaine Model United Nations team. 

“I’m looking forward to trying new things and meeting new people,” Cruz said.

Her first year at the university has been busy since day one, and her workload will only increase as she goes further in her studies. Cruz is confident that her hard work will pay off and assist her in her career later on.

As the world has learned, a great deal can happen in three years, and nothing is truly certain. Despite this uncertainty, Cruz has learned the value in maintaining a positive attitude in times of stress by recognizing that this discomfort is only temporary. Cruz believes this lesson will serve her well in her future career as a traveling nurse.

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