College of Nursing Graduates on Front Lines of COVID-19

Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing

(Photo by Alex Dolce)

By brittany sylvestri | 5/7/2020

The members of FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing class of 2020 will enter a workforce that has been forever changed by the COVID-19 crisis. Some of these graduates already have witnessed these changes firsthand, as they have been on the front lines taking care of patients fighting the coronavirus since it first came to the United States. The pandemic has forced these graduates to jumpstart their career before officially receiving the degree they’ve worked so hard to earn.

Sean Gibson

Sean Gibson is one of these nurses. He will be receiving his bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing this week, yet the 52 year old was deployed on March 8 to Travis Air Force base in California with the sole purpose of assisting more than 900 passengers who were federally quarantined on the Grand Princess cruise ship. Without hesitation, this active member of the National Disaster Medical System within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided medical care for the quarantined passengers, all while managing their chronic health issues during the early stages of the United States’ COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It was both personally and professionally one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done,” said Gibson. “I had never dealt with anything like this before.”

The current division chief of the City of Delray Beach Fire Rescue, Gibson served as a medic in the U.S. Army right out of high school and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in biology from FAU. Both of Gibson’s parents were nurses and after debating which career path to take, he felt called to follow in their footsteps. Next on his list is to return to FAU to earn his master’s degree in nursing. 

Tatiana Cavarretta

FAU nursing student Tatiana Cavarretta, 22, was notified that her immersion was canceled due to COVID-19 and that her coursework was finished, but she still had a desire to help. She started working full-time as a nurse extern at West Boca Medical Center. 

During the early stages of the pandemic, the unknown of which sick patients were infected with the coronavirus was a frightening thought to Cavarretta, as she witnessed the resiliency of medical professionals firsthand. She was tasked with caring for patients during a time where there was a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment. 

“I believe with my entire being this is my calling,” said Cavarretta. “I am called to be a calming force in the midst of chaos, a shoulder to cry on in times of uncertainty, and a voice of reason when all else seems to be caving in.”

Cavarretta felt prepared for this unchartered territory as a nurse because of the caring theories she was taught at FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. And with officially receiving her bachelor’s degree in nursing this week, she became an alumna of FAU, joining her parents who also both were graduates. 

Cavarretta served as president of the Student Nurses’ Association and the Nurses Christian Fellowship, and has received FAU’s Nursing Leadership Excellence Award, the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students and the Palm Beach County Medical Society Heroes in Medicine Award. Now her goal is to return to FAU to continue her nursing education and one day work in oncology or trauma. 

“The hospital culture will never be the same as it was prior to COVID-19 and I will never be the same as I was before COVID-19, said Cavarretta. “This tribulation has made me stronger, wiser and braver, to stand up for myself and my patients.”