Susan Haas: Recent Grad Nabs Top Honors at SMC

A former history major at UC Berkeley, Susan Haas’ path to higher education at Samuel Merritt College (SMC) has been a challenging balance between graduate school and full-time parenting. The 43-year-old mother of three graduated May 25 from the 12-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

“It’s astonishing how this program can successfully take 48 students with diverse backgrounds to end up with a cohesive unit of students who all have the same exact goals in mind, which is to be incredibly caring nurses.”

Haas says she chose SMC because of the intensive accelerated program designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. She adds the focus was always on ‘determination, dedication, clarity and strength’ in the nursing field.

“I really wouldn’t have picked another program or school. I feel this environment was perfect — the stress was on ethical nursing and I feel we really know what that means and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Unlike a student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, an ABSN student begins working in a hospital immediately. All of the 96 students in the program work an 8-hour, three days a week shift caring for patients supervised by a buddy nurse and a clinical instructor. The students are also required to log classroom hours two days a week. Haas credits her fellow classmates, instructors and family for getting her through the high-pace program.

“If I am not studying at home with my family I am studying with my teammates at the teahouse — and when I need to talk to an instructor about a certain project, they are open minded to my ideas and try to work with me. So yes, my life is on hold, but I am always dealing with people with positive relationships in this program.”

It’s Hass’ own positive ‘caring’ relationship with others that got her voted ‘Student of the Year.’

“I was picked by my fellow students out of the1200 student population, it’s very humbling. Outside of having my three kids, it was one of the most amazing recognition that I will have in my life.”

Haas once again credits her fellow 48-Oakland group-students for the honor.

“It wasn’t an ‘I’, it was a group effort. I feel that everything they wrote about me I feel the same about each and every one of them. Our group worked to be inclusive and we fought for what we wanted in a positive constructive way.”

That ‘way’ also helped her land a job with the Transitional Care Unit Department (TCU) at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland with the goal to work as an Intensive Care Unit nurse later down the road.

“As an ICU nurse you have the critically ill patients and I enjoy the continuity of care day-after-day and making sure patients get the care that they need.”

As for the future, “I look forward to the day when a student from Samuel Merritt College comes in and I get to become a preceptor for them. That would be an incredibly rewarding experience.”

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Office of the President enews is published by Samuel Merritt College, Office of the President. Stephanie Bangert, Editor. Elizabeth Valente, Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations. Elizabeth Clayton, Publications Assistant. Photography: Checkerbox Photography (graduation), Oakland Metro Chamber of Commerce (East Bay Economic Development).

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