Best Graduate Highlight of 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Below is a short speech given by Karley Mariano, one of our 2014 graduates during National Nurses Week at her hospital at Stanford. She agreed to share her thoughts with alumni, students, and applicants.

Nurses Week: 2014
Karley Mariano, MSN, CPNP-AC, RN

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? There are many of you in this room, who I’m sure have thought about going back to school or obtaining certification. Maybe life gets in the way, or work gets in the way, or maybe you get in the way of yourself. You might think to yourself: I haven’t taken a test in a long time, I don’t write particularly well, or my schedule isn’t as flexible as I’d like. But what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

As I began my own journey in nursing, starting as a nursing assistant, I came across someone who reminded of this very thing. He wasn’t my favorite person at first. Actually, he was quite the opposite. He was a staff nurse that seemed abrasive and, to be honest, a bit rude … that I never understood. Then one day it all changed and he was diagnosed with cancer. He left our unit for some time to receive treatment elsewhere, but returned in full remission and a new person. He came back as our nurse manager and had beliefs that we all followed: customer service, kindness, and individuality. He even included “laughter” in our unit’s mission statement. We became very close and he became my mentor as I supported myself through nursing school. In my last year of nursing school, his cancer returned. He still worked as much as he could, and when he was sick or in need of pain relief, he came to our unit so, as he said, “only his nurses took care of him”. We spent many nights chatting after my shift in those rooms, with his epidural infusing and the monitor beeping in perfect harmony with our conversations. We made a pact one night that when the time came for me to go to graduate school (because he said I would), he was going to go with me.

Well, as I stand here today, I stayed true to our pact, and 7 years after his death, I am amongst some of the most inspiring nurses I know. I can hear his voice saying to me “now you have to be twice the NP I would have ever been…you have two sets of shoes to fill.” When I’m frustrated, or upset, or emotional, I think about him and his guidance. But mostly, I think of him when I’m afraid to take the “leap” and I remember his fearlessness through his battle; his fearlessness for doing great things and making change. And I think, if he could do it, then I have no excuses.

I know we all have stories that inspire and motivate us. Some are the patients we’ve seen, our own fellow nurses, or our own motivations. What could we do if everyone in this room committed him or herself to overcoming the things that hold us back? Now is the time to not be afraid. Now is the time to take the leap. I believe everyone in this room, including myself, has been called to be a nurse and we have accepted it with great privilege and responsibility, and this recognition tea is a testament to the wonderful things we have done. We change the lives of our patients and families, we offer new perspectives for our fellow doctors and colleagues, and we love. We love what we do and what we’ve become in our careers. If you pursue what you love without fear, things will fall into place, and you will make the changes you envision. Education is simply a powerful tool that pushes nursing forward. It cannot be taken away. It allows us to step up and “take a seat at the table” in healthcare. It gives us a voice that we didn’t have before. But most of all, it allows us to improve the care our patients receive, and that, my fellow nurses, is something worth fighting for.