July 16, 2014
When you talk to Anthony Fernandez about all he is doing, it’s hard to believe he has time for anything else. The 28-year-old from Moreno Valley was a combat medic and now serves in the Army Reserves. He is a full-time nursing student at Mt. San Jacinto College and also works 40 hours a week for The Press-Enterprise’s transportation desk. This summer, serving as an Army Reservist, he is in the Dominican Republic to provide medical support to those building hospitals. He’ll return in early August to marry “the most wonderful woman in the world” before he returns to school to finish the course work that will allow him to graduate in December.
Fernandez recently told the MSJC Board of Trustees about the support he is receiving at MSJC. “It’s pretty fantastic for military veterans,” Fernandez said.
After the meeting, he expanded on that thought: “I have to say what makes a difference for me at school is to use the resources, the counseling and the help with forms. Make an appointment to get help with paperwork,” he advised incoming veterans. “They (MSJC veterans counselors) know more about my military paperwork than I do.”
MSJC has two Veterans Resource Centers – one on the Menifee Valley Campus and one on the San Jacinto Campus. Each has counselors who specialize in the GI Bill and other veterans services.
In the fall semester, Fernandez will also serve as the president of South West Association of Nursing Students (SWANS), part of the National Student Nurses Association. The group’s charter calls for members to practice strong ethics, advocate for quality health care and support each other to become leaders in the profession.
The SWANS pre-professional nursing chapter offers opportunities for mentorship, peer counseling and tutoring to MSJC students. They participate in academic and curriculum formation and decisions. They work together to ensure passing of licensing and credential exams.
Nursing Program Director Rae Brooks said 100 percent of MSJC’s nursing students passed the licensing exam. The nursing council lets students be part of a larger organization and lets students take advantage of professional materials available to nurses.
Susan Farrington, SWANS advisor at MSJC, looks forward to working with new president Fernandez, who previously served as secretary of the organization. Fernandez has already been able to fit school speaking engagements and other volunteer activities into his busy schedule. Farrington says Fernandez is a great example of the many students who volunteer as part of the program.
Last semester, more than half of the 140 nursing students contributed more than 750 hours in the following community activities that focused on building leadership, dedication and commitment:
- Breakthrough to Nursing
- Valley Restart in Hemet, serving breakfast to the homeless
- Project Touch distributing toiletries to the area’s transitional homeless
- December Toy Drives in Riverside County
- Lake Elsinore Project HOPE food distribution
- Health fairs, 5 to 8 a semester
- Health screenings, Hemet Senior Center and area malls
- Haunted Hospital at MSJC
Farrington characterizes the value of these volunteer experiences as “Changing their lives and the lives of other people by being a registered nurse.”
As SWANS upcoming president, Fernandez looks forward to sharing those MSJC experiences that have proved so useful to him. As first in his family to go to college and the son of a repo man, Fernandez emphasizes the importance of the counseling and resource help at MSJC. From his personal experience he wants to make sure that his fellow nursing students take advantage of the services available to students and veterans at MSJC.
For information on MSJC’s Veterans Resource Centers,
visit www.msjc.edu/vrc or call 951-487-3248
For information on the Nursing/Allied Health Program,
or call 951-639-5577
SWANS - South West Association of Nursing Students
The SWANS Organization is a constituent of the National Student Nurses Association and practices shared governance.
ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP is open to students enrolled in any of the following nursing programs at Mt. San Jacinto College:
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Licensed Vocation Nursing (LVN)
- Registered Nursing (RN)
How to become a SWANS member:
The qualified students may become members by logging onto WWW.NSNA.ORG
The annual NSNA dues for active and associate members shall be $30 per member. A two-year sign up for NSNA membership costs $50. Students that sign up on the NSNA website will become members of the National Student Nurses Association which will automatically qualify the student to be a part of three organizations:
- South West Association of Nursing Students
- California Nursing Students Association
- National Student Nurses Association
Why become a SWANS member:
SWANS members experience the following values of membership:
- Gives nursing students the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other nursing students from around the country through National and State Conferences
- Increases nursing students’ awareness of issues confronting the nursing profession today
- Provides information about changing political and career trends in nursing
- Prepares students for entry into the profession by providing access to state board reviews, study tools while still in school, mentoring, and involvement in Community Health.