Our Alumnae

Healing Hearts: A Mother-Daughter Nurse Combo

The second youngest of five children, Melany Gonzalez ’02 always knew she wanted a career where she could work with and help people. So, it was no surprise when – during her junior year of high school at Milwaukee Trade & Tech – she confirmed her desire to become a nurse.

“It seemed like a really good, completely natural fi t,” explained Melany. “I always enjoyed science and especially biology, plus I could help people and that was really important to me.”

After sharing the news with her maternal grandfather, Arnold Denny, he encouraged her to investigate Alverno’s nursing program.

“He read an article in the newspaper that talked about the College’s nursing program and the success rate of its graduates, so he felt it was a really good program. And after I visited the campus, I knew it would be a good fit for me, too.”

Melany especially liked the low faculty-to-student ratio and thought the smaller class sizes would be valuable to her college experience.

It was about the time Melany started nursing school that her mom, Mary Nieves ’03, contemplated the idea of starting school as well.

“Like Melany, I had always wanted to be a nurse,” explains Mary. “So in 1999, after my kids were grown, I enrolled in the nursing program at Alverno, too.”

There was never a question as to which college she would attend: “Dad spoke so highly of it and Melany was having an excellent experience, so I knew it was the right school for me, also.”

Although only two academic years separated mother and daughter, the pair never had classes together. But what they did share was a healthy dose of confidence, tremendous experience gained through clinical experiences and internships, and an overall preparedness that they didn’t see in their counterparts who graduated from other colleges and universities.

After her 2002 graduation, Melany immediately went to work at St. Francis Hospital where she remained for six years. Currently, she’s one of 50 nurses working for the City of Milwaukee Health Department where she’s specifically assigned to the Empowering Families of Milwaukee (EFM) program, a home nursing program designed to provide education and health care to Milwaukee’s pregnant women and their families. Melany is also exploring an advanced, master’s level degree in education.

Meanwhile, Mary graduated from Alverno in 2003 and remained at Columbia St. Mary’s, an organization with which she started working while in school at Alverno. She stayed there for 10 years, progressing through the nursing channels, eventually earning an Adult Nurse Practitioner degree from Marquette University in 2009.

After staying with Columbia St. Mary’s for 10 years, she decided to move to Marinette, Wis., where she works currently as a Nurse Practitioner with Cardiologist with Aurora Advanced Healthcare.

Mary adds, “Dad was right! Alverno nurses are very well-prepared, which can be attributed to the way the

College approaches education and the way classes are set up. I received a global, well-rounded education and it truly opened my eyes to everything in the world on nursing.”

Click on the 2011-12 President’s Report to read more amazing stories like the one featuring Mary and Melany.