Maria Vezina ’73, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN always makes time for Hartwick. Whether it’s serving as a trustee, sharing her insights and expertise as a nurse leader, or creating opportunities for aspiring professionals, Maria Vezina is always “all in.”
Vezina is the Chief Nursing Officer/Vice President, Nursing of Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital (MSSL) in New York City. Brittney Polly ’19 is a new full-time nurse in the hospital’s “med surg” unit. Their story began last year at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown where Vezina presented and Hartwick nursing students shared their senior theses. “Brittney and I talked and I invited her to come see me at MSSL,” Vezina recalls.
“Maria went above and beyond to make me feel welcome,” Polly says of that day. “She included me in meetings where I met her nurse managers and she took me to each unit. I knew then that I would love to represent St. Luke’s as a nurse; they have such high standards.”
“Touring the units gave Brittney a good idea of what to expect in her career,” Vezina explains. “One of our managers was so impressed she wanted to hire her right away.” First, though, Polly had to pass the daunting NCLEX exam.
“We kept in touch and Maria was so encouraging,” says Polly. “She messaged me the day before the exam and wished me good luck. I immediately emailed her when I passed and she got in touch with HR. I can’t thank Maria enough for believing in me.”
Vezina’s reach extends well beyond nursing, as public health major Erin Formosa ’18 can attest. Professor Cherilyn Lacy, PhD, connected the two through Hartwick’s Student Trustee Advantage Program. “I saw in Erin an eagerness to learn more about the inner workings of healthcare institutions and to better prepare herself to help older adults,” Lacy says. “That told me she was the right person for the opportunity to meet with Maria.”
One day on site at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s “was a crash course for me,” Formosa says. “I went on interdisciplinary rounds with the head of nursing in geriatrics. I met with the directors of the age-friendly unit and the social work unit and an NYU social worker. They all shared their experiences and made suggestions to help me be successful. Thanks to Maria, I gained so many tools for my future.”
“Erin got the unvarnished truth that day,” reflects Vezina. “Now she’s more fully educated as she takes the next step in her career.” Formosa, who plans to work with older adults with dementia or who are otherwise cognitively impaired, is pursuing a master’s in social work at Boston College. “Our vice president of social work offered Erin some timeless advice,” Vezina notes. “‘Speak up in graduate school. The more you know what you want, the more you’ll get what you need.’”
— Maria Vezina ’73