Emmie Grimaldi, a senior in Kent State University’s College of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, can trace her desire to become a nurse back twenty years to her humble beginning in life. Her story began under China’s ‘One-Child Policy’ law, which was implemented nationwide with the intent to develop the Chinese economy and raise the living standards of its people by limiting most Chinese families to one child each. As a result, many female babies were abandoned, Grimaldi among them, as the country had a long-standing tradition of favoring male children. Prior to being adopted by her American parents, Grimaldi spent her first eleven months in a social welfare institution in Yiyang, China, having been discovered lying in a straw basket on its concrete steps, wearing a tiny red jacket.

“Many of the orphans were diagnosed as ‘failure to thrive’. Within the drab, prison-like walls of our nondescript building, that easily could have been me as well, had it not been for some caring towns ladies who had taken an interest in me. They singled me out for special care-taking and loving attention,” said Grimaldi. “When my parents visited the orphanage a few days following my adoption, they learned the workers nicknamed these ladies my nurses. The story of these ladies’ devotion to me became my favorite bedtime story as a child and has had many loving retellings throughout my life. They were the first to surround me with love and warmth. My path in life and my emotional response to the word nurse had begun.”

Grimaldi knew obtaining a bachelor’s degree would allow her to be more competitive and qualified in her nursing career. Additionally, she understood by furthering her own education, she would be in a better position to reach and care for more people. During her Kent State University College of Nursing orientation, Grimaldi was excited to learn the college dedicates an entire semester to helping its nursing students prepare to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which immediately eased her anxiety. She was also glad to learn about other courses the college offered specifically geared toward building students’ confidence during test-taking situations. Knowing these and other resources were readily available to her, Grimaldi says she knew Kent State was the right choice for her.

“Following my tour of Kent State in September 2020, I knew I had found my second home. I liked that Kent State was only about a half-hour away from my family in North Canton, OH. The campus already had a sense of community, where I knew I would make life-long friendships and memories,” said Grimaldi. “The downtown Kent area was welcoming, too, with its coffee shops for studying, along with sushi and taco restaurants to grab a fun dinner to catch up with friends, not to mention the late-night dessert stops for when you needed the extra motivation to finish out the week!”

One of Grimaldi’s favorite memories of her BSN program so far has been her White Coat Ceremony. This event officially welcomes second-year nursing students into the professional nursing sequence of their program. The Kent Campus held its inaugural nursing White Coat Ceremony for 132 BSN nursing students on January 23, 2023. 

“It was so special that my class was the first to experience this,” said Grimaldi. “It was even broadcasted via livestream for our friends and family to watch.”

When it was time for Grimaldi to schedule her first clinical rotations, she was impressed at the large number of hospitals and healthcare facilities that were connected to the university. She vividly recalls her first experiences at the bedside.

“Instead of taking vital signs and talking to manikins, as we do during simulations, this was the real world with real patients. To say I was nervous is an understatement,” said Grimaldi. “But over time I became more comfortable with my new environment. I completed head-to-toe assessments and had meaningful conversations with my patients with ease. I enjoyed interacting with patients during my clinical experiences and loved that there were so many opportunities to gain hands-on training and experience very early on in the program.”

Recently, Grimaldi began working as a Student Nurse Tech at Summa Health in Akron, OH, and credits her clinical experiences for helping make her transition into this role easier while also earning money.

“I am only required to work 24 hours in four weeks, so with good time management, this requirement has been easy for me to meet,” said Grimaldi. “As a Tech, I am responsible for taking vital signs, obtaining blood sugar levels and blood draws, assisting with patient hygiene, along with feeding and helping transport patients.”

In addition to learning about nursing, Grimaldi has learned a great deal about herself throughout her time at Kent State. 

“College has shown me that I am a strong person, capable of handling challenging situations in a hospital setting and managing my time wisely to allow for studying and a full personal life,” said Grimaldi. “Nursing is not only my calling but also a profession that will fulfill me throughout my lifetime.”

Occasionally, Grimaldi explained, she must miss out on social events because of the demands of her nursing program, but she has found a balance between her school life and social life by leaning on her support system. By studying with her fellow nursing students, Grimaldi has found comradery in the group because they are all sharing the same experiences.  

“Having friends who understand the struggles of nursing school allows you to have a shoulder to lean on when things are tough,” said Grimaldi. “On-campus tutors, and of course, the professors, are other resources I’ve used. The best way to learn is going straight to the source after all.”

One of the best things Grimaldi says she did for her mental health was get involved on campus. As a sophomore, she was a part of Kent State’s CHAARG workout group, and she is currently an active member of Kent State’s Nitro Fellowship Group. During her first two years at Kent State, Grimaldi was also employed at the on-campus Starbucks as a Barista.

“These experiences provided structured time for me to put down my flashcards for a few hours and embrace the here and now,” said Grimaldi. “There is a time and place for when you need to study, but you must also know when to put the books down and recharge. I have found it valuable to be a part of these organizations because they have kept me grounded.”

Grimaldi highly recommends potential students tour Kent State as she did and ask questions about the nursing programs. To the students coming up behind her, she offers this encouragement, “When all you want to do is throw in the towel, remember why you began this journey. It isn’t always going to be easy, but nothing worth fighting for is. You’ve got this!” Grimaldi will graduate with her BSN in spring 2025, after which she hopes to obtain a full-time nursing position in labor and delivery or dermatology.

To learn more about Kent State University College of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, please register for one of our virtual or in-person information events.