Safiya Vera graduated from CSI in the fall of 2019 with a BS in Nursing, where she also earned her Nursing AAS. Safiya was in the SEEK (the Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) program as well, excelling in it, winning many awards and, according to SEEK Academic Student Support Lead Counselor/Counseling Coordinator Maria Levine, was very generous with her time, especially speaking to continuing students about nursing. A SEEK Ambassador as well as a CSI Mentor while she attended CSI, Safiya is one of many dynamic alumni now making an impact in her field.

“CSI prepared me for these types of careers in nursing by providing the foundational framework needed for nursing. By taking the courses and completing the clinical rotations needed to complete my Baccalaureate degree in Nursing, I was exposed to the core information and the many specialties available to me as a nurse,” she said.  “This allowed me to better navigate the field of nursing once I completed my degree, master my personal nursing practice, and make informed decisions.”

When asked about professors or advisors who helped her, she had a hard time choosing just one.

“This is a difficult one. I am unable to choose just one professor or person. If I could choose two, I would say Mrs. [Miriam] Perez, my freshman SKO professor/advisor and Mrs. [Maria] Levine, who started out as my freshman advisor, turned SEEK advisor. Both of these women have played such a monumental and instrumental role in not only my journey at CSI but thereafter,” Vera said. “As a freshman, they saw something in me that I did not yet see in myself. And they nurtured that seed, watered it, and allowed me to bloom in my time. I can say honestly, that without them I would not be the Safiya I am today. I am truly forever grateful for all they’ve done for me and are doing for me.”

Vera learned many skills while she was here but there was one that really helped her with her current career in nursing.

“One particular skill that I learned at CSI that has prepared me for working in my career is time management,“ said Vera. “Learning to juggle multiple things at once has definitely helped me in my nursing career.”

Currently, Safiya is a full-time staff nurse in a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She cares for mostly premature infants born before 32 weeks gestation, apart from a few full-term neonates. These infants are critically ill with various medical conditions and/or require surgery and/or continuous life support and comprehensive care before they can be discharged home with their parents and family. Additionally, she works per-diem as an endoscopy/perioperative nurse, caring for pediatric and adult patients in an ambulatory-care setting with gastroenterology concerns and medical problems. In this role, she works in the pre- /post-procedural area, assisting with pre-procedure assessments and post-procedure recovery from anesthesia. Furthermore, she also works in the intraoperative area, assisting the gastroenterologist with various diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopies, endoscopies, and endoscopic ultrasounds, as well as helping with various pain-management procedures. In addition, she is currently back in school, obtaining her Master’s in Nursing at SUNY Downstate with the goal of becoming a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, as she is very passionate about the holistic development of young girls and women of all ages. Outside of work and school, during her free time, she loves spending time in nature, creating content that brings her joy, and hanging out with her friends and family. 

The time management skills that she learned at CSI definitely come in handy as she juggles work, school, and spending time with family and friends.

Finally, she has some advice for incoming first-year students:

“Be patient with yourself and your journey, and remember, it’s your journey; don’t compare it to anyone else’s. Use this time as one for self-discovery. Find what makes your soul happy and your heart joyful; your likes and dislikes. Think about where you see yourself leaving a mark in this world. And if that’s too vast and grand to think about, discover and explore what you believe are your passions and start there,” she advised. “You will go on to do amazing things, but that starts with you believing you can. Most importantly, take care of yourself: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Develop your self-care and wellness practices. You can’t pour from an empty cup—and for us to effectively show up for others, we must show up and take care of ourselves first.”

By Vinny Masocol