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Going the Distance

News Story

Be it a high-stakes race or a patient in need, nursing student Nick Porretta ’17 is prepared for anything that may come his way.

As a member of Pace’s Cross Country team during his time as an undergraduate, Nick Porretta ’17 understands the value of endurance. Similarly, during his time as a nursing student in the College of Health Professions, he has also gone the extra mile. From participating in world-class clinical rotations to establishing a solid blueprint for future career success, Porretta is ready to embark on the long-distance race that more commonly referred to as life after college.

“A great Pace perk is that, in my four years here, I’ve lived the best of both worlds. I have taken classes on both campuses, done clinical rotations throughout the Westchester and New York City area, and enjoyed the pleasures of exploring and experiencing city and suburban life,” says Porretta.

Locally Porretta participated in clinical rotations at NewYork Persbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and Manhattan VA Medical Center, where he garnered essential on-the-job training that will help him be adequately prepared for any kind of medical emergency. All in all, Porretta participated in an extremely impressive ten clinicals, some of which involved considerable travel—including a particularly eye-opening exprience in India.

Working in a small village along the Himalayan foothills through an internship with the nonprofit Child Family Health International, Porretta assisted in providing valuable services to the under-served population living in the rural, mountainous community. Three days a week, alongside doctors, staff, and several Pace faculty members, Porretta and his team operated a clinic to anyone who sought medical assistance. The rest of the time, staff would travel to nearby villages to set up health camps complete with the necessary medical equipment and medications needed to assess, diagnose, and treat patients.

Porretta recounts one anecdote from the trip that particularly stuck with him, and has inspired him to continue to provide aid and assistance wherever he possibly can.

“One day I was walking back from one of these health camp visits, and I encountered a young boy sitting at the bottom of the sloped pathway with a bundle of wood tied on the ground before him. With the help of the doctor as a translator, I asked the boy if I could carry the wood up the hill for him; he agreed and aided with positioning the bundle on my shoulder. With great effort and strength, I was able to complete the task, but this wasn’t without some assistance and soreness afterwards. Next, I watched this boy—half my height and half my age—effortlessly pick up this bundle and continue to carry the bundle atop his head to his home. My whole experience in India was truly humbling, enlightening, and inspirational,” says Porretta.

Back on campus, Porretta continued to hone his personal and professional skill set through both the classroom setting and extracurricular activities. As a four-year member of the cross-country team, he traveled all over the northeast to compete. Along the way, he learned the importance of properly managing his time, as well as the benefits of working together cohesively as a team, even in a sport that’s individualistic in nature.

In the classroom, Porretta was able to make connections with Pace faculty members in a way a school with larger class sizes may not be able to manage. He particularly cites nurse education professor Yanick Martelly-Kebreau as being instrumental to his undergraduate experience, helping him fully understand the value of his Pace education.  

“During my semesters with Martelly-Kebreau, I came to face some difficulties in my personal life, and these difficulties were starting to affect my focus and performance in school and in clinical. One day she told me that ‘Education is your greatest investment; nobody and nothing can take that away from you. Focus on yourself and your studies.’ She had great faith in me, and she helped to instill a renewed sense of purpose and confidence in myself.”

As Porretta readies himself for the “real world,” he can safely say that whatever personal or professional obstacle may come his way, his time at Pace will help him take any future challenge in stride.

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