La Salle nursing student perseveres through personal loss, dreams of working in pediatrics 

May 1, 2024

Christie Perkins, ’24

Christie Perkins, ’24, is a nursing student with a minor in public health.  

Perkins feels an immense amount of support from her La Salle community, especially during a time of personal loss when her mother passed away. She said classmates, friends, faculty, and staff rallied around her, helping her continue through her studies to become a registered nurse.  

As Perkins, a resident of Ambler, Pa., prepares to receive her diploma at 2024 Commencement, she shares what being an Explorer means to her.  

Why did you choose La Salle?  

I chose La Salle because of the incredible community I was able to find. This was the only school I visited where my worries about the college transition were pretty much alleviated, and that is when I knew I found my second home. Even though it was pouring rain the day that I toured, I fell in love with the school and knew that I had found a place where I was not only recognized as a student, but as a whole person. 

What will you remember most about your La Salle experience?  

What I will remember most about my La Salle experience is the amazing people who I have found along the way. The people I have found in nursing school have become my friends for life, in addition to many professors of mine who have become mentors who I can count on even after I graduate. Finally, the people from the organizations I was a part of at La Salle helped to shape my entire experience. No matter what organization event I was at, I was surrounded by people who had the same amount of passion for what they were doing, and it meant so much to be part of these groups. I will specifically remember the impact that La Salle’s Chapter of The Reflect Organization has had on my college career. Wrapping up the third year as being president, I have met so many amazing people that I potentially would not have encountered if it weren’t for this powerful organization, and it is probably in my top three best memories at La Salle.  

What hurdles did you have to overcome to achieve this degree, and how did you overcome them?  

The rumors that people say about nursing school are true—it is challenging. As a freshman, I was all online, and although the first year of nursing school is mainly prerequisites and the real nursing classes don’t start until sophomore year, it is still called a “weed out year.” I remember taking these very heavy science courses online, which was not the easiest by any means. However, I wanted to make these classes the closest to going to real school that I possibly could, so I kept my camera on during Zoom classes and even carried my backpack around the house! These small things helped me to keep motivated and stay focused, even though I was not in a traditional classroom setting. By the time my sophomore year came around, switching from freshman prerequisites to nursing-specific classes was a huge obstacle for me. At the same time, I was coming back to school for the first time in person, so I wanted to become really involved and make the most I could out of the rest of my college experience. All these aspects on top of each other made for a very difficult transition. However, I quickly learned how incredibly supportive the nursing faculty was, and they had expressed from the beginning that they were there to help me succeed in whatever way possible. Whether it was reaching out to them to set up a meeting, talking to them at the end of class, or taking a pit stop into their offices, they were always there to reassure me that I would find a groove and get adjusted quickly. I learned how important time management was and incorporated strategies into my life to help to balance everything (I have had a yearly planner ever since)! I was able to not only overcome these obstacles but end up doing better than I ever thought I would. 

Tell us about the professor who supported you the most.  

Director of the Learning Resource Center Beth Wagner, MSN, RN, has been my biggest supporter throughout my journey here at La Salle. With nursing school comes a lot of anxiety, and there were times that I felt like I was never going to see the work pay off. She ran the nursing lab, so we saw her all the time, as my class was always in and out for lab hours, practicing, or class. From the time I met Professor Wagner during my Health Assessment lab sophomore year, I knew that I could always count on her. Her spunky personality and passion to see me succeed was always able to lift me up and give me the confidence that I was not only going to pass nursing school, but I would make a wonderful nurse. She was there for me not only academically, but as a whole person, as my mom was sick for most of my time in nursing school. She understood that I had a lot going on outside of school and was always there if I needed a good therapy session in her office. She would always stop what she was doing to make sure I was doing okay. We would even have impromptu lunches together sometimes (Not in the lab of course)! When my mom passed away in the spring of my junior year, she even came to her funeral to support me. I am forever grateful for her listening, her hilarious advice, and her endless support, and I know that I will always be able to count on her even after I leave La Salle. 

Who else acted as mentor(s) to you?  

I was fortunate enough to have many mentors during my time at La Salle. Chair of the Undergraduate Nursing Program Pat DiGiacomo, Ph.D., was also one of my biggest mentors. Since the fall of my sophomore year in her Intro to Nursing class, she has always been there for me. When my mom had passed away, she was there for me academically and was able to help me still pass my classes and not get behind. She not only made sure I studied and prepared to take my exams, but she made sure I was also in the right headspace, and if I wasn’t, she would tell me to push them back. I would also like to acknowledge other members of the nursing faculty, Kathleen Monforto, Ph.D., Sharon Mingo, DNP ’24, MSN, Susan Moraca, MSN, RN, and Mary Dorr, MSN, RN, for their unwavering support and encouragement throughout my time at La Salle. I would additionally like to thank John Lewis, director of the La Salle Chapel Choir, for being a music mentor for me and helping to further my career in singing.  

Please tell us about a proud moment you’ve had while being enrolled. Why is it one of your greatest achievements?  

One of my proudest moments was when I was invited to be inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. Ever since I had found out about it by seeing some of my older classmates get inducted, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.  

What does graduating mean to you?  

To me, graduating is a mixed bag. I have loved my time at La Salle and truly didn’t think I could love a school as much as I love La Salle, so the closing of this chapter will be bittersweet. However, I also think of graduation as a launching pad, as we are on the cusp of entering the “real world” as they say. As the Class of 2024, with many of us being high school seniors in 2020 and graduating in COVID-19, we have had to overcome a lot of struggles as a class. However, we came back stronger than ever, and it is time to celebrate that. I am privileged to be graduating with such a talented, dedicated group of people, and I cannot wait for this next chapter for all of us.  

What is your next step after graduation? 

My next step after graduation is to become a pediatric nurse. I am hoping to work at a children’s hospital in the Philadelphia area on a medical surgical floor to start out, and I would love to branch off to other specialty units if the opportunity arises. I hope to eventually go on to grad school to become a family nurse practitioner. 

What does La Salle mean to you? 

La Salle means so much to me, as it has been my home away from home for the last almost four years. La Salle is not just a school—it’s a family. It is a community of people who support each other holistically in and out of the classroom. I would not be where I am today without La Salle. Prior to coming to La Salle, I had never thought of myself as a leader. I still enjoyed being involved and was very active in high school, but I was never a leader. After becoming involved in La Salle, I met so many people that helped me realize that I had leadership potential. They gave me the space and outlets to be able to pursue my passions, not other people’s, in a way I never had before. Through these opportunities, I was able to grow so much as a person, not just academically, but socially as well.