Nursing Graduate Leaves a Legacy of Service to the University and Camden Communities

 

Hecmarie Berrios is a member of three honor societies

By Jeanne Leong

Hecmarie Berrios could be considered the mayor of the Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden.

Sometimes working two jobs to support herself, Berrios made time to participate in a variety of activities on campus, hold leadership positions, and do community service work, all while excelling in her courses.

“I love caring for and helping others,” says Berrios.

The Camden native decided at a young age to become a nurse. “I get a chance to save lives,” Berrios explains. “We’re there for the patients every step of the way.”

A 2014 graduate of the Camden Academy Charter High School, the college prep school set her on the track to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

After earning an associate’s degree at Camden County College, she continued her education at Rutgers‒Camden.

Berrios and fellow nursing students at a fair

Berrios (center) and fellow nursing students at a fair

As the president of the Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association, Berrios led community service projects such as providing blood pressure screenings at the American Kidney Fund; assisting with games and other activities for patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and serving meals, seating guests, and cleaning up after meals at Cathedral Kitchen.

She gave generously to the campus and surrounding communities, but there was a time when she needed help herself.

In her junior year, she required assistance to stabilize her life when she was struggling in almost every aspect of her life. She and her boyfriend had broken up. She was taking very challenging nursing courses – medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, and pharmacology. The courses required her to spend many hours each day on the classwork, leaving her no time for her to hold a job to earn money for food and other expenses. Berrios turned to the campus food pantry for food and basic hygiene products.

“This took a toll on me mentally,” says Berrios. “I went into a deep depression, and I struggled with anxiety and suicidal ideation.”

Berrios was treated for depression at the Student Wellness Center and became healthy again.

“I went through challenges, but I wouldn’t really call them obstacles because I had a lot of support and I was able to resolve those challenges,” says Berrios, a recipient of the Educational Opportunity Fund, which is dedicated to supporting low-income and first-generation students.

Overcoming adversity has made her stronger and prepared her to handle any future personal or professional challenges.

Berrios staffing a fundraiser in the Campus Center

Her work ethic has paid off. Berrios is a member of three honor societies – the Eta Mu chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing; the Zeta Pi chapter of the Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society; and Delta Omega chapter of the women’s studies honor society Iota, Iota, Iota.

She was recognized with a Rutgers‒Camden Lasting Legacy Award, given to graduating seniors for their service to the campus and surrounding community.

After graduation, Berrios hopes to work as a nurse at Cooper University Healthcare.

Her long-term goal is to work in health policy advocacy. “Not only do we have to fight for our patients in the hospital, we have to fight for them outside of the hospital,” explains Berrios. “We have to advocate for better healthcare policies. Healthcare shouldn’t be treated as a privilege like it currently is today, but as a right.”

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