Alumni mentors provide valuable advice

Alumna Natasha Melbourne shares her insights with BSN student David Bridges through the New Careers in Nursing mentorship program
As they master rigorous coursework and contemplate future career paths, nursing students benefit from the insights of those who have met similar challenges.

That’s why the New Careers in Nursing program, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and  the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, provides both scholarship and mentorship opportunities for highly motivated learners. The University of Miami is among the first institutions in the nation to receive funding through the prestigious program.

The program’s mentorship component complements the role modeling and mentoring already provided for students by the school’s highly diverse faculty, which includes many Hispanic, African-American, and male professors and instructors.

“One of the primary goals of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to promote nursing as a profession,” says Dean Nilda P. Peragallo, DrPH, RN, FAAN. “The mentorship program enriches the educational experience of our students because it enables seasoned nursing leaders to share their insight with emerging nursing leaders.”

In January, the school invited several alumni to provide support, guidance, and encouragement to students as part of the program. Josefina Munajj, MSN ’96, welcomed the opportunity.

Munajj, who recently retired after  35 years as a nurse midwife, recalls that the mentoring she received as a student from an obstetric nursing instructor at UCLA had a lasting impact on her life and nursing career.

“Having someone you can ask whether the steps you’re taking are the right ones is so valuable,” Munajj says.  “And it’s important to give back by sharing your own experiences with someone else.”

Student Betty Angerville, who has  been paired with Munajj, says conversations with her mentor will help her to clarify her career path: “I value Josefina’s  input about the different areas of nursing and my various career options.”

Natasha Hamilton Melbourne, BSN ’98, MSN ’00, is also serving as a mentor through the program. She says that it took her several years—some of  them devoted to another course of study altogether—to discover that nursing was her true vocation.

“I always told myself I would not let other people go through what I went through,” says Melbourne, now a nurse manager in the Surgical Services Department at Miami Children’s Hospital. “So if I can help guide people and let them know what nursing truly has to offer, I will do it.”

Nursing student David Lee Bridges, who has been paired with Melbourne, hopes to gain knowledge about the local job market. “It’s great to know somebody who knows the places where you might seek employment,” Bridges says.

When Melbourne recently received a promotion at work earlier this year, she shared the news with Bridges.

“I wanted to let David know that, even in this rough economy, nursing offers opportunities for advancement,” she explains. “That sort of information is really encouraging for students who are wondering what their future holds.”