You Make a Difference: Celebrating CUNY SPS' Student Nurses

Nurse with stethoscope looking at tablet

Part One of Our Two-Part Series Honoring Student Nurses at CUNY SPS

Every day, America’s nurses make powerful contributions to the health of our country, whether they serve in an emergency department or a physician’s office, in a surgery or a community health center, in a school, or as a policy maker.

This May, during National Nurses Month and Week, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is shining a spotlight on a few of its student nurses who are making a difference in the lives of their patients—and communities.

In the first part of our two-part series, two passionate and hardworking nurses reflect upon their calling and how CUNY SPS has helped to make their dreams a reality.

Kelita Raphael '19
RN to BS in Nursing

Headshot of Kelita RaphaelWhen she started her career as an LPN at the age of 17, Kelita Raphael could not have imagined that she would someday become a nurse educator, board-certified nurse practitioner, and “accidental” nursing influencer via multiple social media platforms. Today, thanks to her own initiative (and with a little help from CUNY SPS), she is all of the above—and more.

Raphael’s dream of becoming a nurse was encouraged by her Haitian immigrant parents, especially her mother, who earned her own nursing degree while raising a family. Inspired by her mother’s example, as well as her own love of “caring for people,” Raphael began working on her LPN in high school. She subsequently earned her associate degree in nursing, which qualified her for an RN license at the Helen Fuld School of Nursing. Realizing she would need more education to be able to do more, Raphael applied to CUNY SPS’ RN to BS in Nursing program, from which she graduated in 2019.

Her experiences at the School, as she put it, “changed my life.” Raphael explained, “I felt so supported by all my professors and by the nursing department leadership. They emphasized projects that involved teamwork and inspired students to pursue life-long learning.”

CUNY SPS also allowed her to work in Haiti through a school-sponsored medical mission program. According to Raphael, this experience proved to be “one of the most transformative…of my nursing career.” She said, “As the daughter of Haitian immigrants, it was a privilege to work in Haiti and understand the sacrifices and strength of the Haitian people.”

Currently, Raphael works the night shift at a local hospital as a nurse educator where, as a generalist, she works “…collaboratively with an amazing team of specialty educators to support education in their respective disciplines on the night shift.” This involves overseeing “the onboarding and ongoing competency of new hires, being a resource to the nurses on night shift, and developing educational resources and programs to help support their professional development.” She also works days per diem as a clinical nurse on Medical/Surgical and Stepdown units. In her “spare” time, Raphael also creates content for her website,, as well as content and videos for Instagram and Tik-Tok.

How did she morph into a nurse influencer on social media? Raphael explained, “It started, for me, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of my friends didn’t work in healthcare so it was hard to share what I experienced with them.”

To educate her friends—and to share professional insights (and humor) with fellow nurses, Raphael started creating content focused on “providing advice to new nurses.” Next, she made “funny nurse videos” because, as she put it, “laughter became the best medicine to cope with the stress of bedside nursing and the pandemic.” Today, she sees her platform as “a space for healthcare workers to laugh and decompress, and to provide information and resources to help them in their career.” To further support new nurses, she has also written an e-book, From Student to Nurse, a comprehensive guide to transitioning from nursing school to nursing practice.

So what else could possibly be in Raphael’s future? Now that she is a board-certified family nurse practitioner, she does hope to work in this capacity during her career. In the meantime, however, she simply said: “I love my role in nursing education, and I hope to pursue that for the rest of my career. Supporting nurses has always been my passion.” She added, “I also want to involve myself in nursing research and publication. I’m currently considering pursuing a doctorate in nursing as well as a master’s degree in public health.”

Whatever comes next, Raphael will continue to borrow her mission statement from Maya Angelou, “not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Or, as Raphael puts it, “All in all, I’m still in awe that I have such an impact in the nursing profession and that I’ve been able to be seen as an inspiration to others. Some days I still see myself as the 17-year-old LPN but the fact that I am a nurse leader and continue to make an impact in my work and online is such a blessing. I try to never take it for granted.”

Wasinat Osinowo
MS in Nursing Organizational Leadership 

Headshot of Wasinat OsinowoWasinat Osinowo, a student in the MS in Nursing Organizational Leadership program at CUNY SPS, was inspired to specialize in geriatric nursing by her grandmother, Barakat Lawal, who died of Alzheimer’s disease. As Lawal’s health deteriorated, Osinowo’s family struggled due to a lack of information and education. At the time, Osinowo was only fifteen and could not help her family or her grandmother in the way she wished. Today, however, she supports elderly patients and their families through direct care and outreach, enabling both individuals and families to better negotiate this last phase of life—no matter the health issue.

Serving elderly patients has been at the center of Osinowo’s vocation since she first began working with the population seventeen years ago, and especially during the last nine years when she began working as an RN. Osinowo provides outpatient care to the underserved elderly at Lincoln Hospital, in the Bronx, one of the 11 public hospitals in the New York City Health and Hospitals system. This work allows her to take a holistic, long-term view of her patients. She explained: “As a staff nurse, I educate the patients on chronic disease management, a process which includes providing information and following up on diet, exercise, and medication management.”

What does she like best about her work? Osinowo explained, “I enjoy caring for others…The joy I see on my patient's faces when I deliver quality care is priceless.” Like so many nurses engaged in direct patient care, she finds the work fulfilling “because nurses advocate for patient’s needs using evidence-based practices,” and because she knows these efforts improve quality and potentially the length of life for the vulnerable population she serves.

Osinowo feels particularly appreciative to CUNY as a whole, in addition to CUNY SPS. She has worked toward two CUNY degrees, including her first from LaGuardia Community College, where she earned an associate degree in Human Services Gerontology, and second from Lehman College, where she earned a bachelor of science in Recreation Education and Health Services Administration. CUNY is also a family affair, as her daughter graduated from Lehman with a BS degree as well.

Later, Osinowo became determined to return to school and become a nurse. She earned her BS in Nursing, qualifying her for RN licensure, from the College of New Rochelle. She originally learned about CUNY SPS’ MS in Nursing Organizational Leadership program through a colleague. The program appealed to her because she wanted to earn a master’s degree in nursing, so that she could someday assume a healthcare leadership role. She explained, “Without a graduate degree, I cannot evoke change” in the broader health care system.

As she nears the completion of her degree this Summer, Osinowo only has good things to say about her experiences at the School, noting that “the CUNY SPS nursing department was fantastic in supporting me…as a graduate student” and listing the names of the many professors who helped her to stretch herself, not only as a health professional but also as a writer and communicator. Her advice to future nurses is to remember “that being a nurse is not about the money because you will not be happy. It is about making a difference in your patients' lives.”

About the CUNY SPS Online Nursing Programs

The CUNY School of Professional Studies offers a portfolio of online degree and advanced certificate programs in nursing in order to help fill the growing void within the healthcare system. Serving as the first fully online nursing degrees in the CUNY system, our programs help nurses advance within their careers while continuing their education in a timely, flexible, and affordable way.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York, and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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