Among the soon-to-be graduates who gather for commencement on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 17, will be Patricia Abboud, who has more reasons than most to celebrate the day. Not only is she about to embark on the career path she is sure is right for her, but her younger brother is getting married on this day as well.
Abboud, who will receive a B.S. in Nursing, summa cum laude, has been chosen to speak on behalf of the Summer Class of 2013 as the student responder at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Afterward, she and happy family members will head to Cleveland, where she will be in the wedding of her youngest brother, Fayez, in the afternoon.
"It's going to be a great day," says Abboud with the wide smile that frequently punctuates her conversation, especially when she talks about the career that is ahead of her.
Abboud came to nursing after earning a B.A. in Anthropology as a premed student at the College of Wooster, and a Juris Doctor in 2005 at UA's School of Law.
"By junior year, I was more interested in the best way to make a difference in health care, and that's when I decided to earn a degree in law and focus on patent and policy work," she recalls.
Instead, over the next six years, she found herself focused on corporate law, business, domestic relations and criminal cases — everything but health care. "It was not my passion, and I was not fulfilled at all," Abboud admits. "Patent law was not feasible for me because I needed more of an engineering background."
So, she continued to practice law and began job shadowing doctors and nurses. "I loved the role of the nurse, because they have more interaction with the patient, and can be more of a patient advocate," says Abboud. "It's what I really wanted to do all along, I just went about it the wrong way."
She returned to UA and enrolled in the Accelerated BSN Program through the School of Nursing, which is designed for individuals with a completed baccalaureate program in another area of study. The intensive and carefully structured 15-month-long program combines classes with clinical experiences at area hospitals, and is capped by a five-week practicum, where students work full-time at a hospital. Abboud will complete hers at the Cleveland Clinic right before commencement.
“It was really, really hard,” says Abboud, who maintained a 4.0 GPA. “You have to create a balance with family, friends and school to make it work. But I am really happy I came back to The University of Akron for this program. You feel that you are important and your professors are vested in you and your success. Their doors are always open and their knowledge base is amazing. The depth of experience they have and the passion for what they do — they impart that to students.
"I had some amazing mentors," Abboud continues, singling out Jacqueline Guhde, an assistant professor of clinical nursing, in particular. "She really helped me click everything into place. She expects the best, and tells us she knows we can deliver."
While her route was circuitous, Abboud believes the knowledge gained in anthropology and law will make her a more understanding nurse, and a more knowledgeable advocate.
"I have a great appreciation for other cultures," says Abboud, whose father is from Beirut, Lebanon. "Having an understanding of people from different backgrounds is really a help in the nursing field. I want to provide culturally compassionate care, and quality nursing care.
"I want to work at a hospital in the Cleveland area, working on the floor to develop and improve my skills," says Abboud. "Eventually, I hope to earn a master's or doctorate in nursing practices and work in under-served areas to provide one-to-one contact with patients. I hope to make the biggest difference this way.
"It was a long path to get to where I am supposed to be," notes Abboud with another wide smile. "I really love the clinical experience. I find this work very fulfilling and I am learning new things every day."