Becoming a nurse always seemed to be in the cards for Denis Nelasov. After all, both of his parents are physicians and working in the health care field was a natural fit. But it almost didn’t work out the way he had hoped.
“After I graduated from high school in Russia, I went to engineering school,” Nelasov says. “I was just going through with it. I wanted to do well because that was the standard that I set for myself. I studied electrical and nuclear engineering, but it didn’t move me. I never really cared for it. I always had nursing in the back of my mind.”
Ultimately, Nelasov followed his heart. The Rutgers University–Camden senior will graduate in May with his bachelor’s degree in nursing, eight years after first coming to the United States to pursue a career in a field he always loved.
Nelasov, who is from Kursk in southeastern Russia and currently resides in Maple Shade, came to the United States in 2006 as part of a student work program. He says he held jobs in the construction and fast food industries before enrolling in Camden County College to pursue an associate’s degree in science.
“I wanted to get on track and work toward a career in nursing,” he says. “I was always attracted to nursing because you can build relationships with patients and you’re with them from start to finish during their care. That was always important to me.”
After earning his associate’s degree, Nelasov began to seek out nursing programs throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. At that time, his girlfriend (who is now his wife), Yanina Bancroft, was studying accounting and finance at the Rutgers School of Business–Camden. She encouraged him to apply to the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden.
“I heard about how fast the Rutgers–Camden nursing program was growing and I wanted to be part of it,” Nelasov says. “Yanina (who graduated from Rutgers–Camden in December) pushed me to pursue it, so I did. It was the perfect fit for me.”
Nelasov started taking nursing courses at Rutgers–Camden in the summer of 2012 and soon began clinical work and was an active participant in community health care programs.
“Rutgers has such a big impact on the Camden community and I really liked that, especially as someone who wanted to become a nurse,” he says. “Through my clinical work, I had a young patient who I was seeing for weeks and he suffered from a debilitating condition,” Nelasov explains. “I watched him make a recovery and it made me feel good about myself to help care for him. It was very rewarding.”
After commencement, Nelasov hopes to work as an acute care nurse, caring for patients with severe injuries or illnesses.
“There are so many ways to contribute to this city and help people and I feel like I can make my own contributions thorough health care,” Nelasov says. “I’m proud that it worked out the way it did.”