Studying Nursing: Ashley Pagan ’23

Carolina Vargas and Ashley Pagano '23

Ashley Pagano ’23 (right) with Carolina Vargas

So you want to be a nursing major?

Hey future ‘Phins! My name is Ashley Pagan ’23. I’m a commuter student from the Bronx, N.Y. now entering my junior year at the Mount (time flew by!). Whether you’re interested in learning more about the transition into the nursing program at Mount Saint Vincent or you just stumbled upon this blog today, I’m here to tell you all about my experience as I begin my journey as a nursing major. I never thought this would be the route I’d take, but everything happens for a reason.

I applied to the nursing program and didn’t get in. I’m a little bummed.

For those who would still like to pursue nursing at the Mount, but did not get into the program when first applying from high school, I’m here to tell you that there is still hope! Don’t give up yet. As a student who is currently transitioning into the nursing program for the start of my junior year, I hope I can ease some of your stress and motivate you to keep working toward your dream of becoming a nurse (you got this!).

You might be thinking: “Even if I transition into the program, will I graduate on time?” I’m here to tell you that the answer is YES! Whether you enter the Mount as a nursing major or transition into the major, the CMSV nursing program follows a 2-2 curriculum. What does that mean? During your first two years of study at the Mount, you’ll take prerequisite classes that everyone in the nursing program (or those who are interested in the nursing program) takes and as long as you pass all of your classes with a C+, you will graduate on time!

The prerequisite classes include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Intro to Psychology
  • Lifespan (a Psychology course on the development of the human being from birth to adulthood)

Then, as you enter your last two years at the Mount, you will focus on in-depth nursing courses, including:

  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pediatrics
  • Adult Health Nursing

You’ll also begin your clinical rotations in some of New York City’s top hospitals! Most recently, Mount Saint Vincent nursing students gained critical experience at local hospitals such as Bronx Lebanon, Montefiore, and NewYork-Presbyterian.

The ball’s in your court

The likelihood of transitioning into the nursing program is high, but again, everything depends on you and the effort you put into your classes. Passing all your prerequisites with high grades demonstrates your capability of handling nursing, as it is a rigorous major and career path.

My switch from sociology to nursing

“I came to the Mount as a sociology major and switched to nursing in the middle of my sophomore year. During my senior year of high school, although it felt bittersweet to be the first in my family to go to college, I felt incredible pressure to succeed. In the back of my head, I wanted to make my parents so proud that, up until my sophomore year of college, I found myself liking what they wanted for me, but not liking what I wanted. I was living my parents’ dream of becoming a social worker and slowly but surely I was unhappy with my career path. I told myself: “I need to do what I want!”

But thankfully, when I sat with my parents and told them that this is their dream and mine is to become a nurse, they were nevertheless thankful I found my passion again and that I didn’t give up on it. In some situations, parents will not be this understanding. Not knowing how my parents would react with my change, a person who’s been there for me has been my Oxley Advisor, Carolina Vargas. The advisors the Mount have are truly amazing. I can gladly say I had the full support from my professors and advisors from the minute I sent an email saying I wanted to switch my major. Carolina has been there for me every step of the way and I couldn’t be any happier with my decision!

I began taking prerequisite courses for the nursing program this past semester. I took Anatomy & Physiology I and Chemistry (together!) and it was a tougher transition than I expected. Sociology definitely has a different vibe from what nursing offers, and I had not taken a science course since my senior year of high school. Sociology consisted of more reading and thinking about everything outside the box, the norms of society, etc. These science classes required hours, even days of studying, many all-nighters, gathering and remembering tons of information, etc. But I persevered! And you will too.

Transition in general is not easy—earning your spot in the nursing program will be hard. You will have sleepless nights and plenty of tears, but don’t worry! The Mount has plenty of people to help you succeed! So far, from my experience, I have a few recommendations on how you can succeed in your transition:

  • Don’t procrastinate! It will get difficult if you leave things to the last minute.
  • Study ahead of time! I always start reviewing my notes a week before my exam. These courses require students to know a lot of information and studying the night before is not ideal.
  • Create your own study schedule and stick with it! Having a schedule will hold you accountable to review and prepare on your own time out of classes.

What happens if I don’t do so hot or fail one of my courses?

If you fail one of your prerequisites or one of your nursing classes, fear not—there is still a chance for you to catch up! However, the College does follow a strict academic review policy, which states the following:

“Nursing students must achieve a grade of C+ or better in all required science and nursing courses. Nursing students may repeat only one nursing course or required science course. Nursing students who are unsuccessful in any two nursing or required science courses are ineligible to continue in the nursing program. Any two withdrawals in nursing or required science courses (whether from the same or different courses) equate to one failure for purposes of the progression requirement, above. Exceptions to this rule will only be made for medical withdrawals, for which appropriate documentation is required.”

For further questions or concerns, read more about the College’s Nursing Degree Policies.

Take a few deep breaths. You’re going to do fine.

Another question that might be circling around in your brain is: “Is nursing as hard as people make it seem?” When I’m giving tours in the Office of Admission or spending time with future ’Phins who visit our campus, I always remind them that college is not difficult unless you let it become difficult. The mind is a powerful thing, but it’s important to keep yourself in control of your studies. Nursing is doable, however, it requires your full, 100% dedication to it. Studying for exams and quizzes is something you cannot brush off or leave for the last minute.

Time management will be your best friend all throughout college, but especially during your four years at the Mount and as you begin your nursing classes. As I continue to transition into the Nursing program and progress forward, my ultimate career goal is to be a postpartum nurse. This is a nurse who works directly with new mothers and their children to help educate and assist with physical and emotional needs during the postpartum period. In the hospital setting, these nurses have a role to care for the newborns as well.

I’d love to be in that setting because I feel like childbirth itself and what mothers go through physically, mentally, and emotionally is not talked about enough and not taken seriously. Research has shown that women of color are more at risk of having postpartum depression. Being a Hispanic raised in Dyckman, N.Y., coming from a low-income family, I long to become this type of nurse for these women and their babies. Many families that fall under the same category I fall under do not get the same treatment and I hope I, with other future nurses, become the change they need!

You can do it!
I hope I answered all your questions about transitioning into the nursing program and how your four years will be spent here at the College of Mount Saint Vincent! Consider this your guide into the program and remember you will get through nursing school! If you want to reach out, feel free to email me at

Best of luck to all of you and, once again, congratulations on your acceptance to the Mount!

—Ashley Pagan ’23, nursing major