Two-time RIC graduate entering new career in nursing after successful stint in business

[Editor’s note: Not long after Lucia Napoli-Amado earned a management degree from RIC, she became owner and president of an environmental consulting firm. Though she was a successful businesswoman, she had always wanted to become a nurse. Getting her nursing degree wouldn’t be easy: A mother of four, she was actively involved in her children’s activities and volunteered for several organizations. Also, her husband Jesse is in the U.S. Army Reserves, and has been deployed and mobilized several times over the years. In May, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at RIC. Below, in her own words, she shares how she made it all possible.]

Lucia Napoli-Amado
When I began at Rhode Island College in 1987, my plan was to pursue nursing. Instead I earned a bachelor’s degree in management with a concentration in international business.

I worked overseas and traveled, but was always drawn to nursing. When my husband returned from deployment in Iraq, I talked about going back to school. Everyone thought I would pursue an MBA, but when I told my sister-in-law, Gretchen (a nurse anesthetist), that I was thinking about nursing, she was the first to encourage me and give me the push I needed.

Last week, I received a Bachelor of Science in nursing and I will be an RN. My plan: get a job! There are so many things I like within the nursing field – maternity (I love labor and delivery), pediatrics, community and public health nursing and some areas of adult health. The possibilities are truly endless!

I have four children – Matteo, 8, Gabriella, 10, Alexander, 12, and Justin, 20. Juggling their activities (soccer, basketball, gymnastics, clarinet, catechism, etc.), going to nursing school and having a husband who was frequently away with the United States Army was not easy and definitely a challenge, but my parents were a great source of support.

I probably couldn’t have done it without my mom coming to sleep at my house many nights so that I could go to clinical. She would get my kids off to school in the morning and be there when they got off the school bus in the afternoon.

Napoli-Amado and husband Jesse Amado
My kids were helpful…most of the time. They knew “mommy had to study,” and they knew about ATI and HESI, the exams taken at the end of every clinical that made mommy freak out. Sometimes they had to come to class with me, and especially enjoyed Chem II with Professor Karen Almeida and the lecture about hemi-acetals!

My books and notes came with me everywhere. I studied anywhere I could – during soccer practice, halftime at games, red lights (I always had notes on my passenger side seat). I also worked part-time for the VNA of Care New England during flu clinic season and was fortunate that my schedule was very flexible.

For each of my degrees, I had many professors and staff who had a positive impact on my education – and life. While I worked on my first degree, Holly Shadoian [currently assistant vice president for academic affairs] was my mentor, my boss and a friend. I worked for Holly when she was the director of Alumni Affairs. I was a part-time student worker and basically did whatever they needed – phones, updates, etc.

I knew I could always go to Holly for advice and she always steered me in the right direction. Elena DeGiovanni and Joan McKendall (the secretaries in the office) were like second mothers. Working in the Alumni Office was THE BEST job I ever had, and Holly was THE BEST boss! I met one of my very best friends working in that office – Ceci Chamorro. While Ceci now lives in North Carolina, we still keep in touch and we were in each other’s weddings!

Napoli-Amado at her 1992 graduation.
I was very involved on campus back then (seems so long ago). I was the speaker of Student Community Government/Parliament, president of the RIC chapter of the international organization A.I.E.S.E.C., and I served on the Alumni Board for several years.

As I prepared to return to school for my nursing degree, I remember sitting in Dean Jane Williams’ office and being very nervous. I was “older,” I had children and it had been years since I was in school. She was a wonderful source of guidance and encouragement. Each one of my professors had a positive impact both personally and professionally.

In addition to the nursing degree, I graduated with Departmental Honors for an independent study project titled, “Military Kids: Exploring the Challenges of Deployments and Strategies to Provide Crucial Support.”

My husband, a sergeant major in the Army Reserves, deployed to Kosovo (Operation Task Force Falcon) in 2000, to Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) in 2003, and has been mobilized several times since. While the overseas deployments were difficult and stressful, I came away learning a lot about myself, military life and military children.

Dr. Karen Hetzel, a nursing instructor, invited me to attend a faculty development program about the health care needs of veterans and their families, which proved to be the beginning of an unbelievable journey that became the basis of my Honors Project. I am grateful to Dr. Hetzel; she was an influential role model during my time as a student nurse.

Several 2010 nursing grads, including Napoli-Amado, center, on graduation day.
Abby Bense, my friend, colleague and fellow nursing grad, encouraged me to submit a proposal for this project and apply to the Nursing Honors Program. So many people were instrumental to my success and I am thankful to all of them.

The abstract for my honors project was submitted to the ACHNE (Association of Community Health Nursing Educators) and I will be going to Washington, D.C., to present this project (I’m so excited!).

Besides education, RIC has been important to me for another reason. My husband, Jesse B. Amado, also graduated from RIC, in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. We met on campus, in what is now The Café (formerly The Coffee Ground…I realize I’m dating myself) and he proposed to me on the steps of the old Alumni House. The rest is history!