Student Profile: Nursing Student Monica Cruz Uses her Education to Help Change the Community

Spending her time working at Parent Services Project, junior nursing student Monica Cruz puts what she learns in class into practical use and has the opportunity to help the community.

Since the last week of August, Monica has driven to Marin with nine other nursing students to volunteer at non-profits around San Rafael twice a week. Monica and a classmate are volunteering with Parent Services Project, a community based non-profit organization in San Rafael, as part of the community-service graduation requirement for USF’s School of Nursing.

According to Parent Services Project’s website, its mission is to “engage and strengthen families to take leadership for the well-being of their children, families, and communities.”

Monica works at Parent Services Project twice a week for twelve hours and her project is called “Healthy Homes.” The project includes health assessments and a lot of interaction with the community. Many families in the San Rafael community are low income, and Monica’s role as a nurse is to help them find nearby health resources and services like immunization clinics. Currently, Monica helps the community receive flu shots at the clinic.

“I really like it [Parent Services Project]. It is nothing like what we’ve done before. Normally, we work at hospitals with obviously, sick people, but with this, we’re working as community members with the non-profit, and it’s really cool,” said Monica.

Other responsibilities at Parent Services Project include making brochures for health assessment, working on health assessment projects, going to peoples’ homes and interviewing them about their living and health conditions, and answering questions about health, medical conditions, and resources.

“The program can be daunting, but people over-stress.”

While working with the community, Monica has had the opportunity to outreach, meet new people, and help the community.

The majority of clients are very welcoming and friendly, said Monica. They invite her into their homes and take time out of their day to tell her about their lives and let her know how she can help them. Unfortunately, their living conditions are not always the best. A lot of the clients are either or both, low income or immigrants, and their landlords take advantage of them, said Monica.

However, Monica is not sitting idly by. She is collecting testimonies about the building’s manager and taking note of the clients’ living conditions so that a code enforcement letter can be sent to the landlord.

Besides working at Parent Services Project, Monica attends two to three-and-a half hour classes once a week and will soon be working at a psychiatric hospital where she will hand out medication, help with assisted daily living, and aid in-group education.

In the future, she plans to attend graduate school for a masters degree to become a nurse practitioner with a specialization in geriatrics.

As a junior nursing student, Monica personally knows the ins and outs of the program. “The program can be daunting, but people over-stress. Take it one step at a time. Relax. Don’t stress out! Embrace it [nursing program]. You’re getting real life and career experience,” advises Monica.

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