Queensborough Students Awarded for Excellence in Nontraditional Careers

Published: February 03, 2020

Mark Iciano-Sanz, ’19, Nursing, and Steven Ramirez, Health Related Sciences, recently were named 2019-2020 Vanguard finalists for successfully pursuing career and technical educational programs nontraditional for their gender.

For the 2019-2020 academic year, sixteen finalists were selected from a pool of 57 nominees.

Iciano-Sanz, who graduated from Queensborough’s Nursing program at the fall 2019 Candlelighting ceremony, was the 2019 Class Student Nurse Association Vice President.

“My goal as the first Vice President of the SNA was to work with my peers to get through the semester as smoothly as possible,” said the Queens native. “We helped plan the candlelighting ceremony, held workshops before exams and advised students who had questions about coursework.”

His ambition to become a nurse started as a teenager when a close family member became seriously ill.

His experiences of helping to care for his family member has been invaluable in his academic career and in his position as Patient Care Associate at a Long Island hospital.

“Each day I see the differences that nurses can make. I always try to make my patients laugh to ease their anxiety.”

His responsibilities at the hospital include working with social workers and physical therapists; taking vital signs, helping patients with their basic needs, performing phlebotomies, collecting urine specimens, and assisting with CPR.

His friend, Steven Ramirez, a full-time student in Queensborough’s Medical Assistant degree program, works part-time as a Medical Assistant at Bayside Family Eye Care, while carrying a full course load.

Dr. Punita Bhansali of Biological Sciences and Geology nominated Ramirez for the Vanguard award. “I see in Steve the qualities needed to excel in the health care industry. His academic record is excellent and I am impressed by his participation in my lectures and awareness of the tenacity needed to succeed in a fast-paced health care facility with a variety of patient types.”

“When I first started looking for a job, I must have sent out a hundred resumes to different job search engines, looking for front desk work in medical offices,” said Ramirez, who lives in Bayside. “Nearly all front desk work positions sought female candidates; a position I needed until I had the experience to do clinical work.”

Ramirez did not start his undergraduate career at Queensborough. He first attended Hunter College where he studied music, psychology and economics. As Ramirez headed into his third year he began to feel discouraged about his grades and no longer knew what direction to take. That’s when he made the decision to take a semester off and focus more on his job.

“I love my job at Bayside Family Eye Care. I went from being a sales associate to taking insurances then administering Autorefractor and lensometer tests. I also use my Spanish speaking skills to translate between doctor and patient. I have a real feel for procedures and help people during their visit from beginning to end.”

Ramirez’ love for his work drove him to enroll at Queensborough in the fall of 2018 to study health sciences and build on his skills. “Now I work at New York Ophthalmology, where the medical assistant program has been beneficial to me. It’s funny, my brother is a Paramedic at Northwell, my mother works as a front desk administrator at Flushing Hospital for the Physical Therapy Department, and my dad was a dentist. I wanted to be different from the other members in my family but found my true calling in the medical field after all.”

As a peer ambassador, he was guided by Nursing Professors Georgina Colalillo, Lorraine Cupelli, Elizabeth Matos, Randelle Sasa and Philip Nelan on advising nursing students of their career options.

“Everywhere I go, everywhere I work, the nursing program is highly regarded. Many of my friends, even my boss at North Shore, graduated from Queensborough.”

Iciano-Sanz graduated from Queens College with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and has continued his education for his RN-BSN degree at Hunter College starting this spring 2020 semester. 

Vanguard Award Winners will be notified on February 12, 2020.

Student winners receive their awards at a Conference in Albany. At the awards ceremony the winners are also presented with a certificate and receive public recognition as role models for others considering nontraditional careers. Eligible post-secondary students are to be nominated by faculty and staff of CTE programs throughout New York State.



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