Nursing student athletes balance between two universities


By Brooke Protesto
September 25, 2023

A Cabrini women's softball player with her blue team visor receiving her nursing white coat in the ceremonial white coat ceremony. The player waves to the crowd with a smile as she is rewarded with an applause
Dorian Ilyes representing Cabrini Softball at the White Coat Ceremony. Photo by Cabrini University Instagram.

Student athletes already struggle with balancing their classes and practicing their sports. Now, they must face the additional struggle of their university’s shutdown. 

Cabrini’s closure caused much disruption for its nursing students, especially those who are also student athletes. Nursing credits do not transfer easily to other schools, but Eastern University, one of Cabrini’s partner schools, allowed nursing students to take classes there while still competing as Cavaliers. 

Initial shock

Hailey Bond receives her white coat. Photo by Cabrini Women’s Soccer Instagram.

The news did not come easily to junior soccer goalkeeper Hailey Bond. “I was in full-on panic mode. I was upset because I was thinking toward the future about graduation,” Bond said. “I’m not going to be able to graduate with my friends. I’m going to have to be a new face at a new school. I thought I was going to be able to do my junior year at Cabrini,” Bond said.

Amid the initial confusion and shock of the impending closure, nursing students were concerned about how their credits would transfer and if they would still be able to play their sport at Cabrini University.

Dr. Melissa Terlecki, associate dean for Cabrini’s School of Arts and Sciences, said, “The nursing students in particular are a unique case because we had a lot of nursing athletes and they wanted to continue playing, but they’re being forced to transfer.” 

The main priority for faculty was getting their students into a nursing program where their credits would be accepted, and they would still graduate on time. “We were trying to find partners immediately that would take all of the credits, not add time to the degree completion, have their sport, and allow them to do both simultaneously,” Terlecki said. 

“For the first two weeks of the news coming out, we had no idea if we had to leave or if we were allowed to stay. There’s also two of our advisors and head of nursing that helped us throughout the whole two years of us being there,” junior softball outfielder Dorian Ilyes said. “They were in every one of our classes. We just really trusted them, we requested them, and they basically ghosted us.” 

Finding the balance

Dorian Ilyes catching a fly ball. Photo by Brooke Protesto.

Finding the balance between school, athletics, and personal life is a struggle. Nursing student athletes travel between two campuses each day for classes and their sport. “Honestly, it was a big change just because now I’m going back and forth between two schools and time management has become a big part of it,” Ilyes said.

Some student athletes reside in off-campus housing, adding more time out of their day for commuting. “I would say it definitely is a little bit of a challenge because usually, I’m going to Eastern in the morning, coming home for three hours, and then running right back to Cabrini for soccer practice and then coming back home,” Bond said. 

Nursing courses are rigorous and it takes significant effort to be successful. “Junior year of nursing is already hard enough, and then doing it with a sport is hard. Now I’m trying to do it between two schools. I’m taking extra classes here at Cabrini and an extra class at Eastern to catch up. It definitely puts a lot more pressure on my day-to-day life.” Ilyes said. 

This will be the last season for many of the student athletes, and they plan to go all out. Even though these nursing students don’t take all their courses at Cabrini, Cavalier blood will always be a part of them.

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Brooke Protesto

Brooke Protesto is a Junior at Cabrini University. She’s a Communications Major with a Leadership Studies Minor. Cabrini was a big part of her childhood, her father is a part of Facilities and Athletics. “Take your kid to work” day was her favorite time of the year! It was only natural for her to enroll at Cabrini. Brooke spends her time playing softball, is a Resident Assistant on campus, DJs for Cavalier Radio, and is a reporter for the Loquitur. For her last year at Cabrini, she plans to make the most of it.

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