Chelsea Vaughan Applies Caregiving Skills and Experience Working with Children to Her Nursing Education

LaGuardia Community College Registered Nursing student Chelsea Vaughan on the first day of clinicals in September 2022 at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (April 6, 2023) — When Chelsea Vaughan, 33, decided to go to nursing school, she applied to schools all over the country before landing at LaGuardia Community College/CUNY.

“Because LaGuardia’s Registered Nursing Program is so competitive, I applied to programs as far away as South Carolina,” said Chelsea. “LaGuardia was my first choice, not only because it is the top-ranked nursing school in New York State, but because it puts nursing students in clinical settings from day one.”

Chelsea enrolled at LaGuardia during the “big pause,” as she refers to the pandemic. She had spent nearly 10 years working as a nanny and art teacher in Sunnyside, Queens, but found herself unemployed because of COVID-19.

“I realized that I wanted to have more impact on a daily basis,” Chelsea said, who holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art, painting, and drawing, with a minor in art history, from Albion College in Michigan. “I was working with kids and teaching painting, which I loved, but I wanted to reach more people. I wanted to become a healer.”

Chelsea said learning about her aunt’s hospital experience after a car accident was another reason why she wanted to pursue nursing as a career.

“Her accident was during the time when hospitals only allowed one person at a time in a patient’s room,” said Chelsea, who is from Harbor Springs, Michigan. “Her experience showed me how important nurses are to a patient’s healing and recovery.”

Chelsea started at LaGuardia in Fall 2021, taking pre-requisites to applying for nursing candidacy. Now in her second semester, Chelsea is in LaGuardia’s Registered Nursing Program, having passed the fundamentals of nursing course.

“I really like the challenge of what I’m doing,” she said. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life.”

With help from biology professors Dr. Ingrid Veras and Dr. Joby Jacob, Chelsea received a stipend from the CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP) to conduct research testing Newtown Creek for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

“Right away I was interested because I’m passionate about public health,” said Chelsea, one of a small number of nursing majors accepted into CRSP; the majority are science majors. “Interestingly, the project is directly relevant to nursing. In humans, antibiotic resistant bacteria can cause life-threatening Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or staph infections.”

The experience with the CRSP project has made Chelsea interested in incorporating public health or environmental research in her future career.

On May 26, Chelsea will present a poster about the project at LAGCC’s CRSP Research Day, and on June 7, Chelsea will present her work at a year-end, CUNY-wide undergraduate research celebration for CRSP participants.

Chelsea recently earned a Marilyn Skony Stamm and Arthur Stamm Scholarship from the LAGCC Foundation, and is on track to graduate with her associate in nursing in Spring 2024.

“After completing my RN at LaGuardia, I hope to find a job that will sponsor my Bachelor of Science in Nursing,” said Chelsea, who continues to draw from her experience as a caregiver. “My goal is to become a nurse anesthetist. It will be a long road, but I’m ready for it.”

“I sometimes try to see patients as children. It might sound funny, but it makes me more comfortable,” she adds. “It allows me to feel in control and able to provide comfort. I want to make my patients feel like we’re on the same team.”

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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