Jennifer Mendoza, '21, BSN (Criminal Justice minor)

Jennifer Mendoza, BSN student with a criminal justice minor at Saint Luke's College of Nursing and Health Sciences

When she was younger, Jennifer Mendoza watched as a friend was shot and killed in front of her.

That moment turned into a “what if” as time passed and became a motivator for Mendoza as she planned the road to her career.

“If I would have known just a little bit more, I would have been able to save them because they decompensated really quickly,” she said. “If I would have known the basics, I would have been able to help him.”

The memory of her friend, and the motivation attached to that memory, continued to push her forward toward her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Saint Luke’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences despite the typical challenges that students face.

“With nursing,” she says, “there's definitely difficult classes and there's times that you feel overwhelmed, but then I think back to my story, and I always push myself and say, ‘You know, you can save someone's life in the future so you have to continue; you can't just give up.’ But I also… I will constantly remind myself what was the reason that I started and anytime that I have any doubt I always remember that.”

For Mendoza, her goals don’t stop at being able to help someone in an emergency situation – it extends to treating the whole person. She eventually wants to be a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) so she can help those recovering from harrowing experiences.

“I believe that when someone experiences a traumatic event, then they deserve someone that is caring and willing to just talk them through it,” she said. “And so that has always been something I want to do – to leave a good imprint on them and to remind them that a horrible time could always be turned into something more beautiful.”

To that end, Mendoza used the recent merger between Saint Luke’s and Rockhurst University to better prepare for the extras required by nurses. She added a Rockhurst minor in criminal justice to her Saint Luke’s BSN degree requirements.

“Sometimes nursing needs a little bit more to either explain it to the patient or explain it to someone else,” she said. “Learning from my classes in criminal justice, I will be able to explain it to them and reassure them just the process of it. Before Saint Luke's merged with Rockhurst we didn't have those luxuries and now that we're together, we're offered even more opportunities that we can take advantage of.”

Mendoza graduated from Saint Luke’s in Spring 2021 and is currently fulfilling her goal toward being a SANE nurse, and ultimately helping others turn each of their situations “from horrible to something more beautiful."