Berkeley College Graduate Seeks to Help Others with Degree in Surgical TechnologyIn 2016, during her first semester in the Surgical Technology program at Berkeley College, Jennifer Ruesta wrote herself a letter for motivation.
“You started this with your head up high. You did it for your kids, your family, but mostly for yourself,” Ms. Ruesta wrote. “Don’t give up – even if you’re struggling. You can do this!”
“Our professor told us to look at that letter whenever things got tough or we thought about quitting,” she said. “The letter is still there on my refrigerator.”
Ms. Ruesta, 31, of Garfield, NJ, was awarded an Associate in Applied Science in Surgical Technology, cum laude, at the 2018 Berkeley College Commencement ceremony on May 11, 2018. She recently was hired at a plastic surgery center in Wayne, NJ, where she hopes to continue honing her craft.
Ms. Ruesta always knew she wanted to help people. Inspired by her mother, a Medical Assistant, she began volunteering at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center at 16 years old, and later worked at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“When I was growing up, I thought the most I could do in the medical field was registration or answering phones,” she said. “I wanted to move past that.”
After several failed attempts at other college programs, Ms. Ruesta enrolled in the Surgical Technology program at Berkeley College.
“I remember touring the campus – looking into a classroom and seeing students in the program in scrubs with their masks on,” she said. “It called to me. Right then and there, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I had no hesitation.”
But her journey was not without challenges. In order to meet the demands of her educational program and clinical rotations, she left her job and her apartment, moving in with family.
Her inspiration was her three daughters.
“There were times I thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’ ” she said. “But I looked at my girls and said I am not going to be a failure. I wanted to show them you can always succeed at something you love.”
Her family and her husband also supported her every step of the way.
On the day Ms. Ruesta found out she had passed her Certified Surgical Technologist exam, she was offered a position in the main operating room at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center. She later joined Ganchi Plastic Surgery, where she is applying what she has learned in sterile technique, surgical conscience, but most importantly, “making sure the patient is always the priority,” she said.
Joseph Charleman, CST, CSFA, CRCST, LPN, Chair, Surgical Technology program, Berkeley College School of Health Studies, called Ms. Ruesta “a special student.”
“She serves as encouragement to other students so they can see that attaining a degree is possible,” he said. “Now she sees the benefits of everything she has sacrificed.”
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