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Melinda GarayMELINDA

"Taking care of people is a natural instinct for me."

Patient Care Services INROADS intern, Melinda Garay, has chosen nursing as her career. This summer she has been working with the Early Start Team, a program designed to help at risk pregnant women, who smoke, drink, or use alcohol or drugs, to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

Melinda is enrolled in Mills College’s pre-nursing program in partnership with Samuel Merritt College. At Mills she will complete her general education and basic science requirements and then transfer to Samuel Merritt College where she will complete her theory and clinical experience. Upon completion of the program she will have earned her BSN from Samuel Merritt College. The caveat she says is that in order to matriculate at Samuel Merritt students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and receive a minimum score of 55 on the Nursing Entrance Test. Students also must be CPR certified.

As a resumer (term Mills uses for students resuming their education), and a second semester sophomore, she has not been without her share of challenges. During her first semester she saw her GPA drop dramatically. “The science department is brutal, the classes are challenging, and the workload is very heavy,” says Melinda. She’s keeping her GPA up now but says she really had to work hard. After figuring out what Mills required she was able to tailor her work style to meet it.

Another of her challenges centers around money. “There just never seems to be enough,” she says. She survives on student loans, grants and scholarships. She says she never really took her education very seriously. “Now I appreciate it more because I’m putting myself through college.”

Garay loves the pre-nursing program because of its small size and everyone knows each other. She says there are approximately 15-20 nursing students in her class and she and a few others will transfer in the spring to Samuel Merritt College. She’s looking forward to the clinical portion of the program. “Taking care of people is a natural instinct for me,” says Melinda, “and I’m anxious to interact with the patients.”

One of Melinda’s goals is to work for Kaiser Permanente when she’s finished with school. Her interests lie in labor and delivery and becoming an advocate for women’s health. Eventually she will return to school and work toward becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Her long term goal is to work with underserved women with a focus on homelessness, pregnancy, HIV, and women with chemical dependencies. “It would allow me to be a primary care provider for women who cannot otherwise afford medical care,” says Garay. With all the opportunities nursing has to offer and even though she knows what she wants to do she says she will continue to keep her options open.

Melinda advises students to take it one day at a time and try not to be overwhelmed. It’s important to balance life and school and give yourself time to have fun and get some exercise. “If you don’t create a good balance you’ll get burned out,” she says. As a member of Mills’ Crew team, Melinda and team members are at practice at 5 am during the week and 6 am on Saturday. The best part about being on the crew team is “putting the boat in the water when it’s still quiet and dark and getting that first row in,” she says.

Patient Care Services wishes all the best to Melinda.