Schuylkill Speaks: Emily Papa pursues a career in nursing

Schuylkill Speaks! Graduating Student graphic featuring recent graduate, Emily Papa.
Credit: Penn State

Editor's note: This story is part of a series profiling exceptional members of Penn State Schuylkill’s graduating class. For more stories like Payne's, visit

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. — Emily Papa's decision to pursue a nursing degree at Penn State Schuylkill was a natural one, influenced by her family members who are also nurses and by her exposure to health care programs in vocational school. As she reflects on her time in the program, she realizes that gaining her nursing degree wasn't just a career choice, but an opportunity to blend her love for anatomy, health care and people. This spring, she was a part of the first cohort of nursing students to participate in the inaugural pinning ceremony at Penn State Schuylkill, where she invited her high school vocational instructor to pin her.

Beyond academics, Papa dedicates time to impacting her surrounding community and participating in campus programs. At Penn State Schuylkill, she served as a peer academic tutor and participated in the Student Nurses Association at Penn State (SNAPS). Further, she is devoted to contributing to the Occupational Advisory Committee at STC North Campus.

As she looks back on her time in the nursing program, she reflects on the progress she made over the course of four years. She recalls her early days in the simulation labs, where she gained hands-on experience under the guidance of Patrice Rimbey, assistant teaching professor of nursing, and Maureen Sanders, assistant teaching professor of nursing. She expresses excitement to have been part of the first graduating class, witnessing the development of the new program, and receiving guidance from Marianne Adam, director for undergraduate nursing education.

“Emily has provided great service to her fellow nursing students of all cohorts by offering her tutoring skills,” said Adam. “Each student contact with Emily is led by respect, a caring demeanor, and advocacy as a mentor. Emily exemplifies excellent leadership skills as evidenced by her professional role modeling. Emily is a reliable student, an active listener to both her peers and nursing faculty, and is effective in her problem-solving skills as a tutor. Emily creates a culture where people are encouraged, supported and valued.”

Upon graduation, Papa looks forward to beginning a position with Geisinger St. Luke's in the medical-surgical unit.

Q: Why did you choose Penn State Schuylkill?

Papa: I was taking a dual enrollment class in high school, and I was earning my anatomy and physiology credits here already. I liked the campus and the small community, and it was close to home.

Q: What will you miss most about campus?

Papa: It’s beautiful here. I will miss walking down the mall-walk and seeing all the flowers. And everybody is just so friendly, even people you don't know. It’s a warm friendly atmosphere. I’ll also miss the comfort and routine of the last four years.

Q: Outside of academics, what was the most valuable lesson you learned?

Papa: It is OK to not always fit in a clique, and you don't have to feel like you belong right away. You can make your own path and you will eventually find what you are meant to do, so it is OK to not just fit into a box.

Q: How did your extracurricular activities impact your time on campus?

Papa: Tutoring was such a large part of my college life here. Between classes, I was often either hanging out with other tutors or tutoring students. It shaped me as a nurse, too, because I mostly tutored nursing classes, which helped me review old material. Explaining information to others makes you remember it more, so I feel like this experience impacted my learning and helped me to prepare for where I am now. It also helped me make friends outside of my little cohort. I am very appreciative of all those opportunities!

Q: What is the pinning ceremony?

Papa: It’s a special acknowledgement for the nursing profession. Normally, a professor pins you, but we could also invite someone important to us to present the pin. From a nursing perspective, it welcomes you to the profession, while also emphasizing your commitment to following nursing standards.

Q: As a Penn State Schuylkill graduate, what advice would you give to an incoming student?

Papa: Don’t let anyone discourage you. College is a big change from high school. You come for a reason, and you have goals and dreams. Others here understand how difficult things can get!