Rebeca Cruz, Class of 2019

When Rebeca Cruz and her family first visited Rivier University, they felt right at home. When she found out about Project Achieve, Rebeca realized her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse was within reach.

Achieving Her Dream

Project Achieve is a program designed to increase diversity in the nursing workforce through financial assistance and learning enrichment programs. Initially supported by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the program has helped dozens of Rivier nursing students from a variety of backgrounds; the 17 members of the pilot group spoke seven languages and represented five continents. In addition to being selected for Project Achieve, Rebeca also earned other scholarships that helped defray costs and make her education possible.

“I knew Rivier was the place for me. And my parents loved it as much as I did,” she explains.

Rebeca took full advantage of Riv’s hands-on learning opportunities, both in the University’s community health simulation labs and job shadowing nurses in a neonatal intensive care unit. In March 2019, she gained a global perspective on healthcare during a faculty-led Nursing Care teaching trip to the Dominican Republic.

“The trip was a life-changing experience for us, and we are thankful to have met these incredible children who will forever be in our hearts and memories,” she said. “The country was so beautiful with a fun and inviting culture with delicious food. It was definitely an unforgettable experience!”

Rebeca excelled academically and shared her knowledge with other nursing students as a peer tutor. She also helped first-year students in their college transition as a peer mentor.

“I have been fortunate throughout my life to have mentors who have helped me along the way. I never really thought of myself as someone who could inspire others,” Rebeca says. “Now I’m confident I can take on leadership roles and be in a position to help others.”

She credits Project Achieve with supporting her academic success and inspiring a passion for community service. Rebeca volunteered with various local organizations, such as the Nashua Soup Kitchen, Ann Marie House, Police Athletic League (PAL), and Marguerite’s Place. “The program has made me not only a stronger student, but also an active member of my school and the Nashua community.”

By the end of her senior year in 2019, this Dean’s List student had collected numerous honors and experiences. Rebeca was chosen to participate in a prestigious undergraduate research fellowship in nursing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. For her senior capstone, she was one of only two Rivier students placed at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she worked alongside some of the best doctors and nurses in the world. Rebeca also received the 2019 REACH Award, which honors a student for their Respect, Engagement, Accountability, Compassion, and Honesty.

At her Commencement in May 2019, Rebeca addressed her class as one of the student speakers. As part of her speech, she said, “We are a part of a supportive community that strives for diversity, global engagement, career development, and student success.”

Rebeca took many things away from Rivier: leadership skills, mentoring experience, interest in community engagement, a quality education — and even a long-term career goal: Family Nurse Practitioner.

Above all, though, Rebecca shares one of her most important lessons:

“I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what background you come from or past education you have received. You have an equal opportunity to be successful at Riv.”


Office of University Advancement and Alumni Relations

Make a Gift and Make a Difference

You can turn our students dreams into reality.