Geny Moreno, Retention Champion at School of Nursing
When life throws harsh obstacles onto the path of UST’s nursing students, they have a kindred spirit — sort of a personal ninja — to guide them in clearing the way to success.
Since immigrating from Colombia to California at the age of nine, Geny Moreno, Director of UST’s School of Nursing Retention Services, has lived the extraordinary life of an “overcomer.”
At 17, Moreno was a high school dropout and a single mom. Against all odds, the 53-year-old now possesses a Master in Engineering from Georgia Tech, a Master in Academic Advising from Kansas State University, and will soon have her Doctor in Education in Ethical Leadership from UST.
Finding Her Own Ninjas
Moreno is crystal clear about the keys to her remarkable accomplishments.
“Family encouragement and prayers were there, but the most essential game changer for me was all of the mentoring I received from faculty who took me under their wings and guided me,” said Moreno.
She was part of a minority engineering program at California State University Long Beach, where she received her undergraduate degree. There, the highly motivated young woman participated in study groups. She also learned the time management skills crucial to balancing her multiple responsibilities.
Spreading the Help
Recognizing the high demands of nursing school and the value of mentoring, Moreno implemented a similar safety net of professors and counselors at UST. When a student is having difficulty with a class, she knows how to “peel the onion” and discover whether the root problem is academic unpreparedness or personal issues related to home, finances or lack of self-esteem. They then receive the right help.
Moreno mentions a former student who is now working as a happy, successful registered nurse at an area hospital. However, when Moreno met her, the student was an overwhelmed divorced, single mom caring for two children and an ailing mother.
Moreno recalled, “She was having a hard time completing all of the highly demanding coursework and making ends meet. We made sure she got regular tutoring. But this nursing student was having to make impossible decisions between putting gasoline in her car to make it to school or putting food into her family’s stomachs. At one point, her electricity was shut off. So I figured out how to get emergency funding to help her out. It was an honor to help her to navigate the difficulties at the time. And she’s doing great today.”
It’s exceptional professionals like Geny Moreno who make UST’s School of Nursing a remarkably great environment for success.
“This is my life purpose,” Moreno said. “I love what I do. It’s hard to describe the fulfillment I get.”