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Making Up a Different Future

Samantha Navarro speaking at Commencement 2023

Clients were asking her to erase their wrinkles and makeup artist Samantha Navarro was weary of saying she couldn’t.

"‘I can't do that, I don't have a Botox® needle in my hand,’” she said. “And then I thought, ‘I should probably just become a nurse.’"

That realization of wanting to do more, paired with the COVID-19 pandemic (“As a makeup artist I realized I wasn't going to be invited to a private bunker in case the world ended,” she joked) spurred a career change into nursing.

Once she was in the AACC Nursing program, Navarro was surprised to discover that though she loved the concept of aesthetic nursing, a clinical rotation at the Kennedy Krieger Institute made her fall in love with pediatric nursing more.

“The collaborative team effort really speaks to me,” she said. “… as a parent of a child with special needs I know how isolating it could be as a parent. … But there is something about working with parents and their kids. There is this inherent trust and rapport."

The Linthicum resident appreciated the Nursing program’s clinical rotations that introduce students to distinct types of nursing, as well as the simulations and scenarios in the classroom.

“There's so much of it that forces you to be hands-on, forces you to put yourself in the position of feeling uncomfortable, so it's very high stress,” she said. “But personally, I thrive on that.”

Navarro thrived so much that the 4.0 student was named one of the valedictorians of the Class of 2023. She says her grades from an earlier bachelor's degree from University of Maryland Baltimore County were good, but “not stellar.” The difference? “I’m a different student because of the intention, because of the drive,” she said. “As a person that's going to go into health care, I felt like I owed it to all my future patients to know as much as possible, to understand as much as possible, to continually ask questions.”

The former videographer and then makeup artist said she’s excited for her next role as a nurse at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, something that would have never happened without some self-reflection a few years ago.

“I think the most valuable thing that I've learned is don't be afraid to go back and start from scratch,” she said. “Education, at its core, is freedom. You can open a door that wasn't there before just because you took a step back and just sat in the classroom. Or you decided to learn something new. I think there's kind of this misnomer right now, it's once you're done with four years, that's it. No. If you're looking for a change, just start.”