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Degree:  Master of Science in Nursing in Population Health

For Marchelle Boyd, walking across the stage to receive her Master of Science in Nursing in Population Health from Caldwell University on May 23 completed a whirlwind year of new experiences. A year before, as a primary care nurse at RWJ Somerset, she had been on the front lines caring for COVID-19 patients during the lockdown—often connecting them with family members since visitations were prohibited. To keep her family safe from the virus, she stayed in a hotel room that the hospital provided for 200 days. The experience of serving during the pandemic convinced her that she wanted to teach the next generation of nurses to “close the gap of the lack of higher nursing educators.”

When fall semester 2020 came, Boyd, an alumna of Caldwell’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, continued with her graduate studies while taking on the roles of the first graduate research assistant and first nursing tutor in the School of Nursing and Public Health.

Her next new experience will be as health equity nurse manager for the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health System’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She is excited about the challenge and wants to “hopefully make an impact and equitable change for the lives of others.” The East Brunswick resident has already had leadership roles such as serving as president of the Middlesex Regional Black Nurses Association. Her goals include earning a doctorate in nursing practice, purchasing a home and traveling “now that the country is opening up.”

Boyd is grateful for Caldwell’s core values—respect, integrity, community and excellence—which have underpinned her bachelor’s and master’s academic experiences, “values that I try to embrace daily … words that continue to help me develop into the person I am becoming.” Caldwell will always have a special place in her heart. “Some of my fondest memories of my young adulthood have been at Caldwell or with the people I have met from Caldwell … I have 10 years of friendships from this institution.”

As she looks back over the last year, Boyd can see silver linings. “I think the main lessons are to never give up on your dreams or desires, spend time with your loved ones, lean on your circle and it’s okay not to be okay. This was a very stressful time for people, especially if they experienced a loss from COVID-19.” She says it is important to remember to “Live the life of your dreams according to your vision, purpose, goals and values.”