SMU Students Find Economical Ways to Get to Class in Oakland
According to the Office of Admissions, there are at least five health sciences institutions around the country that offer similar programs as the ones found at Samuel Merritt University (SMU). But for more than 1,200 students, the only option each student would consider is Samuel Merritt University.
"I was so excited to learn that I was going to SMU that I didn't care what I had to do to get here," said Sara Cullivan, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student. "Ever since I first heard about the University and the nursing program it offers, I knew this is where I wanted to go to school."
Cullivan knew what she wanted -- the academic rigor of a University education with classes to prepare her to be a nurse. The only problem she faced at the time was how to commute from her home in Sacramento to her classes in Oakland. But after discussing alternative options with her husband, that issue was quickly resolved. Since January, Cullivan has been waking up before dawn to catch the 5:30 a.m. Amtrak train from Sacramento to Oakland.
"Most mornings I use the sleeper train which is great because Amtrak has a rule that no one can talk or use their cell phone," said Cullivan. "That part of the train also has shades on the window so it's easy to fall right back asleep."
By 7:50 a.m. Cullivan arrives at Jack London Square, and then takes two buses to make her 9 a.m. class at the Oakland campus. "I think commuting works in my favor," said Cullivan. "I have a lot of down time that allows me to concentrate on my studies not to mention I have met a lot of people who commute from Sacramento to San Francisco. It's easy and fun."
Cullivan is not the only student who enjoys the long commute. Jeff Raschko, BSN student, says the 40 mile commute from Napa is his time to de-stress, however, there was a period when the drive got a little lonely. It was around that time he decided to approach some of his classmates.
"I asked if anyone wanted to carpool and found people traveling the same route," says Raschko. "I picked up classmates from Fairfield and we would quiz one another in the car, get in the carpool lane, beat the traffic, it's worth it."
For Alicia Furey, Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) student, and millions of other commuter students around the country, gassing up the car is turning into a costly part of getting an education. Some students say driving is becoming a deal-breaker when considering the pursuit of higher education -- right up there with the price of textbooks and child care. That is why Furey has been riding BART from Lafayette to Oakland's Macarthur station. But her commute does not stop there. After BART she hops on the free Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) shuttle bus to the Oakland campus.
"Commuting to the University is economical. I don't have to worry about gas prices or parking fees and it's good for the environment. By riding BART and the shuttle I have met other classmates and people who work at the hospital," says Furey. "I am able to study and read while I am waiting for BART so I definitely make use of my time."
Whether it is to reduce congestion, save time and money on the road, meet new people, or help the environment, many agree commuting to the institution is worth the trip.
"In the end, if the distance is what's holding you back from coming to the University, don't stress about the commute," says Raschko. "Some teachers understand that many students don't live in the Bay Area and are coming from afar. Just enjoy the ride."
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