Senior Volunteers, Pursues Career in Neonatal Nursing


Senior Olivia Medina poses with a letter from the Ronald McDonald House, where she volunteers.

Anna Sarpong, Staff Writer

While many students leave high school unsure of their future career plans, others have a plan when they start.

Senior Olivia Medina is one of these students and has plans to pursue a higher education. With over 250 hours of volunteering, many encounters with patients and new friendships, Medina plans to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner, specializing in neonatal nursing. Since the beginning of her volunteer experiences, Medina has had a persistent desire to help other people.

“I always wanted to pursue the healthcare field since I was in sixth grade, the point in my life when I started volunteering a lot. I started to value caring for other people and the overall idea of it. I even found myself studying more and more,” Medina said. “Ninth grade was when I actually decided to be a nurse.”

Volunteering has given Medina the opportunity to see the beauty in helping those who cannot help themselves. By offering her time and effort to charities, such as the Ronald McDonald Houses, Medina said she has gained an emotional insight into the lives of families after having a baby.

“Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald Houses was unforgettable. The house served families with newborn babies in the NICU,” Medina said. “Although the babies were not physically in the house, I heard many heartbreaking stories from families about their premature-born babies or even the ones that never made it,” Medina said. “I never knew these complications occurred that often–it’s scary to know that things like that happen. Knowing that I can one day help these families through their struggles inspired me to pursue nursing even more.”

Out of the eye-opening experiences at the Ronald McDonald Houses, Medina aspired to volunteer at more locations where she could help younger children. Medina began to work at the YMCA over the summers, where she was able to pursue her growing need to help others.

“These kids called me their mom at work. Whenever they got hurt or struggled with something, it filled my heart with joy to comfort them and help them figure out they were okay,” Medina said.

Volunteering at the YMCA and the Ronald McDonald House was only the beginning for Medina’s journey, as her love for helping others grew all the more. She discovered Paradigm Health, a hospice committed to a culture of care.

“Paradigm Health really helped me grow. It really opened my eyes to understand people really do need help,” Medina said. “Even something as simple as tucking someone into bed makes you feel good about yourself, in a selfless way. I even met this amazing person, who helped me get my first job and taught me how to talk to people and understand what they were going through. She was a mentor to me,” Medina said. “To meet kind people like her, encouraged me to chase after my career.”

Medina now enjoys taking challenging and rigorous classes that will prepare her for her career aspirations. Currently, Medina is taking the last two courses of Project Lead the Way: Biomedical Science in order to gain more experience in her field.

“Out of all my biomed classes, my favorite was the first year. It was my first year at Center Grove with Mr. Bishop,” Medina said. “I remember dissecting sheep hearts in one class. That experience was so memorable.”

Although Medina has not always recognized what she wanted to be in the future, an additional inspiration was her sister, a figure who always acted as her role model in the nursing field.

“My sister inspired me to become a travel nurse. When she was born, she actually almost died because the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. It almost killed her,” Medina reflected. “Something like that could’ve even caused brain damage. It’s just moments like that, a nurse could change.”

Medina has strong hopes in the future for her career. She recognizes her abilities could change entire communities and families.

“I realized there is a need for neonatal nurses,” Medina said. “We all hear about a lot of complications during childbirth, and there’s so many stories out there that people have. Neonatal nurses are truly needed to be there for these families who need support.”