Our UIW family is familiar with our origin story – three sisters made San Antonio their home in response to a desperate need for help during a cholera epidemic. Fast forward more than a century and we’re faced with another health crisis, this time on a global scale. It’s been a scary time, but we take comfort in the fact that there’s something else that hasn’t changed – our students remain committed to carrying forth the legacy and mission of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word … students like Rhonda Sue Cataline.
Rhonda, a graduating Cardinal, is no stranger to service. Originally from Slebyville, Illinois, she has been Active Duty as a Hospital Corpsman for 10 years. Her service to country has taken her to Italy, San Diego, aboard the USNS Mercy, and now, Texas. No matter where she went, though, Rhonda always longed to be a nurse. It was a dream that she was finally able to pursue thanks to the Navy’s Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP).
“The MECP is one of the most wonderful opportunities the Navy has to offer,” Rhonda explained. “Once I learned about the program, it took me about five years to get the requirements together and apply. The selection process is very competitive. I had the opportunity to be selected on my second attempt.”
MECP allows enlisted sailors to earn an entry-level degree in nursing while serving. The program allowed Rhonda to attend nursing school full time without a break in service and “with the Navy’s full support.”
Once she graduates this spring, Rhonda will be stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina where she will work in the Naval Hospital. While she’s not quite sure in what area of nursing she’ll be placed, she’s still “excited to provide care to our service members and their families.”
When looking back on her time at UIW, Rhonda says she’s grateful for much. From faculty who she called “intelligent and dedicated” to all the lessons she learned. Most of all, she’s grateful for the patients who allowed her to care for them.
“By giving me their trust, I have learned strengths and weaknesses that have further ignited my dedication to provide compassionate, high quality care, and to be the best nurse I can be,” she explained.
Her University family couldn’t be prouder that she, and others like her, will continue the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. As Rhonda put it, “the lessons learned at UIW in spirituality of learning and caring for people will carry on to [my] nursing profession and allow [me] to reach patients in a unique way, while also remembering to care for myself.” It’s a lesson she saw up close while caring for the homeless and reaching out to underserved populations during her time as a student.
Her advice to students just starting out is that while there will be many challenges ahead, “putting your best foot forward and working hard will only make you a better person and nurse. Challenges allow you to find out what you’re capable of, and it’s okay to fail, because when you fail or struggle, you also learn.”
Wherever Rhonda’s service takes her next, her UIW family will rest easier knowing that the Mission of our founders continues to reach every corner of the world.
Congratulations Rhonda, and thank you for your service!