“We are so grateful to have highly skilled graduates of Berkeley College, like Niurka, join our incredible team at Hackensack University Medical Center, just when we need them the most.”
– Mark D. Sparta, President, Hackensack University Medical Center
Berkeley College graduate Niurka Pelaez always wanted to help others, but she never imagined entering the workforce during a public health crisis. The Certified Surgical Technologist began her career at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, NJ, in March, just days after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“It was a tough time to start my career,” said Pelaez, who graduated from Berkeley College with a degree in Surgical Technology in December. “I definitely could not have imagined entering the field in the middle of a crisis. But this is what it means to work in healthcare. I’m still very optimistic about the future of my career. In the end, the healthcare community will be stronger than ever.”
As a Certified Surgical Technologist, Pelaez assists surgeons and surgical personnel during operations, including preparing the operating room and supplying instruments during medical procedures. Since the start of the public health crisis, the Passaic, NJ, resident has also been among the hospital employees responsible for distributing supplies and donations throughout the hospital.
“We are so grateful to have highly skilled graduates of Berkeley College, like Niurka, join our incredible team at Hackensack University Medical Center, just when we need them the most,” said Mark D. Sparta, FACHE, President, Hackensack University Medical Center. “Like so many recent grads, Niurka’s first professional experience is invaluable, serving on the frontlines, aiding our doctors and nurses in the fight against COVID-19.”
Pelaez said she is inspired by how communities have supported healthcare workers, first responders and essential employees. She was also encouraged to learn that her alma mater, Berkeley College, donated more than 50,000 medical supplies from its School of Health Studies toward emergency response efforts to fight COVID-19.
“I have always been grateful to Berkeley College and my professors for all they did to encourage me,” said Pelaez, 19. “Now, I’m even more proud to be an alumna.”
As a student at Berkeley College, Pelaez was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and worked on-campus for the Career Services department. She completed her clinical rotation at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, NJ.
“Niurka excelled in her clinical rotations. Her focus and dedication make her an asset to any surgical team – now, more than ever,” said Joseph Charleman, CST, CSFA, CRCST, LPN, Chair, Surgical Technology and Surgical Processing Technician programs, Berkeley College School of Health Studies.
Despite the current challenges, Pelaez is proud to be working in the medical field, in an area that has always called to her.
“I have always wanted to be a healthcare worker and to help individuals, families and my community,” she said. “As we face COVID-19, my co-workers have become family and community is more important than ever.”
About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College has campuses in Midtown Manhattan and White Plains, NY, as well as in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 5,700 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for seven consecutive years. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu
The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.