A lifelong goal to help others has become reality

Apr 04, 2018

Alumna Serina Hertel has been driven to use her talents to help others from a young age.

Hertel set a goal for herself to become a certified pediatric nurse and family nurse practitioner by the time she turned 30. Now at 29 years old, she has achieved that goal.

She works as a nurse practitioner at Bread for the City in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization helping those in need in many different ways.

Hertel’s dream of becoming a nurse practitioner began to form when she was only 5 years old. Her younger brother became ill and the family nurse practitioner diagnosed him with Kawasaki disease. The nurse practitioner made time to see her brother on the weekend and discovered the disease in its early stages. Her brother made a full recovery. Hertel said, “She made a huge impact on me.”

Hertel received her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from Newman in 2011. She then went on to earn her Master of Science in nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2017.

Serina Hertel being pinned by former Dean of Nursing Bernadette Fetterolf, Ph.D.

Hertel said, “I love the nursing field. Now that I am making medical diagnoses and treatment plans as a nurse practitioner, I enjoy merging my nursing background and skills with my current position.”

Many Newman nursing professors helped motivate Hertel throughout nursing school. Current Director of Nursing Teresa Vetter taught a course at the time that inspired Hertel to pursue a career in pediatric nursing. As for her pull toward a nonprofit organization, she has her parents to thank.

“I was fortunate to grow up with two parents who stressed the importance of using your talents to help others,” she said. “They also taught me to never look through people and to always acknowledge the humanity of others. These early lessons are what propelled me into the nonprofit sector.”

Serina Hertel (right) with her mother and father, Cindy and Joe, at her graduation from Newman.

She said, “One of my mantras comes from a popular Catholic hymn that is one of my favorites, ‘Here I Am, Lord.’ I heard this song often growing up both in school and going to Mass with my family.”

She added, “We have the refrain ‘Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord. I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart’ on a letterpress board in our apartment. The message behind this refrain, and the scripture verses it refers to, is what guides my daily life.”

She fits nonprofit work well and is proud to work for an organization like Bread for the City that provides legal, food, clothing, medical and social services for its clients. She said, “This institution supports the tenet I learned in nursing school to care for the whole person not just their medical needs.”

Her favorite part of her job is getting to know her patients and building rapport with them.

“Their stories are diverse, resilient and compelling,” she explained, “and I am grateful to have the opportunity to interact with them. My favorite part of my job is making a mutual connection such as a similar affinity for sports or stories about where we are from.”

She was particularly touched when a patient recalled a previous conversation with Hertel growing up in Kansas and asked if she would be cheering for the University of Kansas in the Final Four. Hertel said, “These are the interactions that make my days brighter.”

Serina (right) and her spouse, Olivia, at the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Hertel and her spouse, Olivia, are both from Kansas, and see a move back home sometime in their future. She said, “My goal is to provide compassionate health care for the people of Kansas as they are the good people who molded me into the person I am today. I would also like to earn my mental health nurse practitioner certificate so I can better serve my patients with more complex mental health needs.”

Hertel is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the Nurse Practitioner Association of the District of Columbia.

“I have so much admiration and love for the Newman School of Nursing,” said Hertel. “I was so fortunate to be taught by the venerable nursing faculty. Many of my professors are still there teaching the next generation of nurses. Because of their influence, I took extra classes in my graduate program to earn my nursing education certificate.”

She is especially thankful for Associate Professors of Nursing Kathleen Barrett and Amy Siple, who also motivated and inspired her throughout her time in the nursing program.

Hertel concluded, “Newman University’s nursing program is rigorous and demanding, but it is worth it. I am partial, but there is a reason it was deemed the best nursing program in Kansas. I felt so prepared both as an RN and as a graduate student after my time at Newman. … Everything I do in my career is based on the nursing fundamentals I learned at Newman. I am forever indebted to the school and the formidable faculty members who had a huge hand in shaping the person and professional I am today.”

Serina at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. This is her favorite D.C. monument as it portrays the role of nurses caring for the wounded.