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Mariia Diahilieva ’26 was a high school exchange student in New Hampshire when the Russo-Ukrainian War escalated in February 2022.
Q1: Why did you become a nurse?
A: Ever since I was younger, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. When I was a child, I spent some time as a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital. Being a patient, in general, and at such a young age is a frightening experience with a whole lot of unknown. The nurses, doctors, physical therapists, etc. made a positive impact on me and I always knew I wanted to step foot into a career where I could make a difference in my patients’ lives each and every day, directly and indirectly. At Merrimack, I took the sports medicine route thinking I wanted to continue my career and go to graduate school for physical therapy. After I had my senior internship, I made the decision to go back to school right away and start the accelerated nursing program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions.
Q2: What experiences at Merrimack led you to pursue the field you are in?
A: The fall of my senior year I had the opportunity to complete my internship in the emergency department at Lawrence General Hospital. This experience was challenging, exciting, adrenaline-provoking and actually gave me an overview of what it’s like to work in the hospital. During this experience, I shadowed different RNs which was great because everybody has different workflows, attitudes and approaches to patient care. Without Merrimack providing this experience for me, I don’t think I would have known how passionate I was about pursuing a career in nursing.
Q3: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: My favorite part about my job is how every day is different. I walk into work for my three 12-hour shifts a week and I never know what I’m going to walk into. I work on an intermediate medical floor, which is essentially a step-down unit from the medical intensive care unit. I take care of patients, ages 19 through the end of life. Every individual is unique and no patient or shift is ever the same. The patient population is very diverse, and I get to meet and interact with new people every day. It’s such a rewarding feeling admitting a patient who is having one of the worst days of their lives and seeing them improve and walk out of the hospital. Every day we are faced with new challenges. Also, my amazing work family makes going to work enjoyable every day. I have built some lifelong friendships since I started my journey here two years ago.
Q4: What was your favorite class at Merrimack College?
A: My two favorite classes in college were strength and conditioning and nutrition, diet and health. Fitness and nutrition are a major part of my life and I am thankful I was able to further educate myself about these things and use that knowledge in my everyday life outside of work.
Q5: If you could go back, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
A: I’d tell myself, or anyone in college, that you don’t need to have it all figured out when you’re in college. I changed my career path and there are so many things you learn about yourself and what you want to do in life as you go through the years.
Bonus: In your opinion, what sets Merrimack apart from other colleges?
Merrimack is unique in its own way, I enjoyed going to a small school. The people were amazing. It was so nice walking to class and seeing familiar faces every day. I am so thankful for the memories Merrimack has left with me and I miss it so much. Spring Weekend and Homecoming Weekend were unforgettable experiences. I would love to come back and teach in the nursing skills lab and share my knowledge with the current nursing students.