Impact stories from

River Valley Community College

River Valley Community College

RVCC Launches Rising Star Tamika Marciniec

When she was a child, Tamika Marciniec dreamed of being an astronaut. While Tamika may have her feet firmly planted in Keene today, she has been on a rocket-fueled journey that has taken her far from where she started, culminating in receiving the 2023 Rising Star Award from New Hampshire Nurses Association (NHNA) for her contributions to the nursing profession.

Eight years ago, Tamika, her husband, and three children had no home and struggled to make ends meet. Now she is a homeowner with a thriving nursing career and is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing leadership and management. She says that Keene Housing and River Valley Community College (RVCC) provided the platform she needed to send her on her way.

Tamika attended middle school and high school in Keene. After graduating in 2007, she worked for a nursing home and laundry facility before marrying and having her first child. Childcare was so expensive that it made more economic sense to stay home to raise her child, who was quickly joined by two siblings. Tamika drove a school bus and took on other odd jobs, but times were tough. She and her family struggled to afford housing and ended up living in her mother-in-law’s basement.

The family’s fortunes began to change when their application to Keene Housing was accepted in 2016. Keene Housing provided them with free or low-cost access to community childcare. Once Tamika knew that her children had a place to go and were safe, she decided to continue her education and train for a new career.

In 2017, she started Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA) training classes held by the American Red Cross at RVCC. While walking down the hall one day, she saw a flyer about nursing classes and was intrigued. After learning more about their nursing program, she lined up financial support and began taking general education classes required for RVCC’s associate in Nursing (ASN-RN) degree.

“RVCC offered night classes, which is really important for adult learners. I could still do everything I needed to do and just arrange care for my children for a couple of hours,” Tamika explains.

RVCC’s Associate in Nursing degree requires core liberal arts courses plus two years of focused nursing. The program typically takes three years to complete but Tamika took six courses at once to sprint through the core requirements in just six months. In November 2018, she began the two-year nursing program, somehow also finding the time to tutor students in anatomy and physiology, found a nursing club at RVCC and serve as its vice president, fulfill recording duties as a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and organize various community projects – all while raising three children.

“RVCC taught me a lot, not only about humans and our biology, but also about myself and my own dreams,” Tamika said.

Tamika graduated from RVCC with an associate degree in Nursing in 2020 and went right into a position at Cheshire Medical Center. She took online classes from Granite State College and received her Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) in September 2022. Her capstone project for her BSN focused on the importance of mentoring.

“I was a brand-new nurse at the beginning of the Covid pandemic and was thrown into a situation that nobody had ever experienced.  Most of the senior nurses had stepped back because of the risk of Covid, so new nurses had lost their knowledge and guidance to get through,” Tamika recalls. “I thought about how I felt and how I wished that I had a hand to hold and someone to tell me that everything would be OK. That’s why I focused on mentoring for my capstone.”

Tamika presented her recommendations to stakeholders at Cheshire Medical Center. They were so inspired by her ideas that they created and implemented a formal nurse mentoring program.  Last year, Tamika was recognized with the 2023 Rising Star Award from New Hampshire Nurses Association (NHNA).  This award celebrates a nurse who has been in the field less than five years and has both contributed to the profession and has demonstrated significant potential as a leader and nursing advocate – a true rising star.

In Tamika’s nomination, Christina DeTurris, MS, RN, C-EFM wrote, “In addition to the mentoring program, Tamika strives to help other nurses gain confidence in themselves and their practice through teaching and helping her colleagues. She proactively seeks opportunities to help her team, listening to her colleagues’ concerns and looking for solutions to everyday issues. Tamika’s passion for empowering others and the results of that empowerment make her a deserving nominee for this award.”

Today Tamika is a Registered Nurse in Cheshire Medical Center’s Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). She has a growing list of credentials following her name, including BSN, RN and CPAN (Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse). She has come very far, very fast. While she may not have become the astronaut she dreamed of as a child, she has become a different kind of hero, inspiring others to reach for the stars.

Tamika is proud to share her story in the hope that it can help others, saying “RVCC sent me on my way. I truly hope my story will be of value to people who are struggling to find their place in society.”

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