JJC Students Honored, Motivated by Nursing Citizenship Award

Joliet Junior College nursing students Ramona Catarama and Ariana Venziano were presented as JJC Nursing Citizenship Award recipients this semester. The students were awarded right before National Nurses Week, which is celebrated by the American Nurses Association from May 6 to 12 this year.

Ramona Catarama

Catarama, who graduates this May with her associate degree, said she was honored, but also pleasantly surprised, to find out she was a winner.

“It made me feel great about my abilities as a nurse,” she said. “As a nursing student, you’re constantly busy with clinicals every semester on top of coursework and it’s easy to wonder if you could be doing a better job. This award boosted my morale and my confidence.”

Since Catarama was young, she had an instinct for helping others, especially if they were hurt – and she was usually the first one at the scene of an injury. She always knew she wanted to work in the medical field. Originally on the pre-med track at the University of California at Irvine more than 10 years ago, she moved to Illinois with her husband and had two children before she could complete any doctoral coursework.

Later, she realized she’d rather become a nurse because it would allow her more time with her family. But what really made her start thinking seriously about her career was five years ago, when her parents both had major brain surgeries. She realized that had it not been for the compassionate nurses during her parents’ time of need, she may have lost both of them. That’s when she knew she had to become a nurse, too.

“When I envisioned my career, I saw myself as a trauma nurse who saves lives while calming my patients’ fears,” she said.

She chose JJC because of its great reputation, its affordability, and because it was close to her home in Bolingbrook. Now that she’s about to graduate, she can’t imagine having pursued her new career anywhere else.

“The longer I lived in this area, the more I heard really positive things about JJC. I didn’t even apply anywhere else,” she said. “The faculty are truly compassionate and caring. They don’t just teach you how to get through each semester, but they truly care about you and follow up with you to see how you are doing.”

Ariana Venziano

Venziano, of Lockport, has the same opinion about JJC’s nursing professors, and added that since she started the program, they have always been supportive and encouraging.

“I’m always super excited to go to school every day, probably more so than the average person,” Venziano said. “I look forward to it and get disappointed when clinicals are over. I think I’ve done so well because I’ve had such great professors.”

Like Catarama, Venziano considered a career in the medical field when she was young, but when she got older, her interests shifted to animals and she attended a trade school to become a dog groomer. She thought about nursing again after one defining moment in her life: she saw a man unresponsive in his car. She went to his aide, contacted medical professionals, and since then was hooked on the adrenaline rush that comes with helping others.

Venziano still has three semesters before she graduates, but she said that the award has added to her motivation and strengthened her positive attitude.

“When I heard I won the award, I was both shocked and elated. It was a huge motivator and it completely made my day. It made my year,” she said.

After JJC, both Venziano and Catarama said they want to continue their education and have goals of becoming nurse practitioners.

The Nursing Citizenship Award is presented to a first year and second year JJC nursing student each semester. Faculty members choose the recipients based on attitude, academics, character, school spirit and community service.

For more information about JJC’s Nursing Department, visit http://www.jjc.edu/nursing or call 815-280-2462.

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