Shelby Torre found her career calling in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
The honors student was in her first semester at UA when her older sister was hospitalized with a potentially fatal sepsis infection. For weeks, her sister lay in an induced-coma while Torre and her mother kept vigil and felt helpless. She credits her sister's eventual recovery in large part to the nurses who cared for her.
"I saw firsthand the positive impact nurses can have on patients, and I know how much they helped us," recalls Torre. "I've always liked taking care of people, and so I chose to major in nursing."
Torre is now about to cross the commencement stage at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall to receive a B.S. in Nursing, magna cum laude. She has been chosen to speak on behalf of the Fall Class of 2013 as the student responder at the ceremony on Friday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m.
As the first person in her family to earn a college degree, Torre takes great pride in overcoming challenges that might defeat others. Her persistence was inspired, she says, by watching her single mother work hard at low wage jobs, struggling to provide for her children.
"Statistically, someone in my circumstances barely graduates high school," notes Torre, who always did well in school, excelling in math and science. "I was ready to beat the odds and not become a statistic."
While a student at Kenmore High School in Akron, Torre participated in Educational Talent Search — one of the Academic Achievement Programs offered at UA. Federally funded, ETS prepares students in sixth through 12th grade for postsecondary education. In her senior hear, Torre also took classes at UA through the Postsecondary Enrollment Options Program — giving herself a jumpstart on earning college credits.
"Shelby has succeeded because of her passion for her future career and her motivation to have a better life for herself and her family," notes Erin Ahrens, an academic adviser in the Honors College who has mentored Torre since her junior year of high school. "Through the scholarships she earned, Shelby has made it through her undergraduate education with very little student loan debt."
In addition to her studies, Torre also worked on campus, first in the ETS office and later, at the School of Nursing Learning Center. She also was active in the Honors Nursing Group and the STEM Scholar Program.
Since May 2012, Torre has worked as a nurse technician at Akron General Medical Center — assigned as a floater to go where she's needed. She will soon begin her nursing career at Akron General, working with oncology patients.
In the fall, she plans to continue work and start her graduate work at UA, with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner and one day working in palliative care.
As Torre reflects on her years at UA, she shares some advice for new freshmen that has become her own motto: "It's not where you come from that counts, it's where you’re going."