2016-06-17 / Health & Wellness

Drawn in by kindness, compassion

Santa Su alumna accepted into competitive NYU nursing internship
By Melissa Simon


MEDICAL ASPIRATIONS—Ashley Ruiz, 20, of Simi Valley is a junior at New York University’s Rory Meyer College of Nursing. She is one of 15 who have been accepted into the highly competitive Visiting Nurse Service’s Scholars program, an eight-week internship at Columbia University Medical Center. MEDICAL ASPIRATIONS—Ashley Ruiz, 20, of Simi Valley is a junior at New York University’s Rory Meyer College of Nursing. She is one of 15 who have been accepted into the highly competitive Visiting Nurse Service’s Scholars program, an eight-week internship at Columbia University Medical Center. Ashley Ruiz made up her mind to become a nurse after witnessing the kindness and compassion shown to her father while he was being treated for kidney stones in the hospital in 2009.

Only 13 years old at the time, Ruiz said she was drawn in by the temperament of the nurses and realized she wanted to care for others the way they cared for her dad, Newton.

She began volunteering at Simi Valley Hospital every weekend, continuing until she graduated from Santa Susana High School in 2013.

Now 20, Ruiz is a junior in the nursing program at New York University’s Rory Meyer College of Nursing, where she is also pursuing minors in nutrition and child and adolescent development. She hopes to one day work in pediatric oncology and hematology.

“Cancer and blood diseases have affected millions of people, and I’ve had family members who have passed away from cancer, like my grandparents on my dad’s side, and others who continue to fight,” she said.

Ruiz considers cancer and blood diseases to be “uncharted waters.”

In the summer of 2013, Ruiz volunteered at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. It was during that time, she said, that her eyes were opened to the need in that part of the medical field.

“At first, I didn’t know how I would handle working with children who have cancer, but I’m really grateful for that time because my volunteer work at Children’s Hospital in the cancer and blood disease unit really solidified my passion for working with children.”

This year, Ruiz was accepted into NYU’s Visiting Nurse Service’s Scholars program, which is an internship for students in nursing and rehab to gain specific knowledge of home healthcare. During her eight-week internship, she will work at Columbia University Medical Center, a campus of New York-Presbyterian Hospital located in upper Manhattan.

Ruiz said she was “overwhelmed with joy and excitement” when she found out May 5 she got into the program because her internship search had been “disheartening” up to that point.

“My professors had only heard of one other person who had been accepted . . . but I was determined to be part of the Scholars program,” the nursing student said. “Internship programs in the field of nursing are quite competitive . . . and I was one of 15 chosen for the Scholars program.”

The nursing student said she is excited to work at Columbia’s medical center because it “plays such a viable and important role in the healthcare field.”

“I believe that this program will provide me with a skill set that will help me through my last year of undergraduate studies and throughout my nursing career,” she said.

Ruiz added that she would not be where she is today without the constant support of her parents,

Newton and Arlene Ruiz, or her teachers at Santa Su, especially Paul Thaler and

Laurie Aiello.

“They expected excellence from me and they constantly challenged me and made me a better student,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the Simi Valley community or Santa Su.”

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