Sarah Stempien ’11: Beyond Nursing

Submitted by Nina M. Riccio on January 31, 2012

Sarah Stempien'11 (left) and fellow volunteer at the 2012 Relay for Life Kick Off

“I Relay for my friends, I Relay for my family, I Relay for my patients. While Fairfield taught me how to be a nurse, these are the people that made me one.”

So writes Sarah Stempien ’11, a newly minted nurse (she recently passed her boards!) on her Relay for Life blog. Since her senior year at Fairfield, Stempien has been very involved in her local Greenwich, Conn., chapter of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life; this year, she is in charge of registration.  “At Relay For Life we celebrate loved ones who have won their battle against cancer, remember those who are no longer with us, and raise money for research and patient services,” she explains.

It was during her senior year transition course when Stempien was paired with a nurse on the oncology floor of St. Raphael’s Hospital in New Haven, Conn., and developed relationships with several of her patients. “I’ve sat with their families, I’ve talked with them about their lives, I watched them receive radiation, and I’ve seen them receive chemo,” she says.

Their fight was her inspiration. Last year, the Greenwich Relay chapter raised $198,000, despite the fact that they had to change the venue for the overnight rally two days before the event because – of all things—a mountain lion was spotted in the field where they were to camp.

Getting this heavily involved in volunteer work has created a host of opportunities for Stempien that she never considered. “I’ve been using social media to communicate and blast out messages, I was interviewed for 15 minutes on the local Greenwich radio station, and I’ve met so many people I would not have met otherwise,” she acknowledges.

The goal for this year’s June 15 event: $200,000.

“Going big!” she says.

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