Hometown: Southbury, Conn.
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Internships: Student Nurse Intern (SNI) at Waterbury Hospital, summer 2008, floated throughout the hospital; SNI at Waterbury Hospital, Jan. and Feb. 2009 in the Emergency Department
Activities: EMT for Southbury Ambulance Association, Student Nurses Association member, tutor for other nursing students
Honors and Awards: Helen E. Mizer Award, May 2009; Connecticut League for Nursing, RN Peer Recognition Award, November 2008; Sigma Theta Tau International, Kappa Alpha Chapter, May 2008; Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, Pi Zeta Chapter, May 2007; New Beginnings Nursing Scholarship, May 2007; Southbury Ambulance Scholarship
Melanie Belec's first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1984. "The plan was for me to get certified to teach math once our children were older," she says. "I was dragging my feet in getting started with the teacher certification. My heart wasn’t into it. When our daughter was 16, she asked if she could take an EMT class and her father told her she could only if I took it with her. I had always been intrigued by EMS and the medical field so I heartily agreed to take the class with her. Both my husband and our daughter saw that my future career should be in the medical field as this was what I was passionate and excited about. They are the ones who encouraged me to apply to nursing school. My mother is a retired RN. My older sister is an RN. My twin sister is an RN, and our daughter in now an RN. So, it was a natural fit to become a nurse."
Belec came to WestConn "because of the excellent reputation of the nursing department, and they accepted transfer credits from my first degree." At WCSU, Belec was able to transfer in almost all of her Gen Ed classes from her first degree. "I will graduate from WCSU with my second BS degree 25 years after my first BS degree," she says.
Taking the EMT class showed Belec that she could still learn and that she loved to learn. "My instructor for the Anatomy and Physiology class at WCSU, Dr. Paul Nitti, validated my choice of career direction and set the foundation for the nursing classes that lay ahead," she says. "Since then, every nursing professor I have had has helped me to increase the knowledge base and develop the clinical expertise that I will need to be a competent, caring nurse."
Asked what she will remember most about her WestConn experience, Belec says, "Four of my classmates were high school classmates of my children. I insisted they call me by my first name because they are my classmates now. When I look back on my four years of nursing school at WestConn, what comes to mind is the amount of work it took to get to this point. All of the students who complete the nursing program have worked hard; otherwise they wouldn’t be graduating. Working and progressing alongside my classmates is something I will never forget.”
After graduation, Belec will work in the Emergency Department at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn.
Belec’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “My advice to future nursing students would be to stay focused on your goal and committed to your studies.”