Student: Rubi Merino

Rubi Merino is working toward her master’s degree in the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner program at East Carolina University. She completed her associate’s degree in nursing at Sampson Community College and a bachelors at the University of Phoenix online before returning to school at ECU for a graduate degree.

She has been a registered nurse for 12 years with experience in the emergency department and outpatient surgery.

“I remember always wanting to be a nurse ever since I was little,” she said.

Her interest in psychiatric-mental health nursing comes from her volunteer work with the Latino community at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church. Working with a variety of age groups, she’s seen the difficulties of those with a language barrier getting access to needed services or care from marriage counseling to mental health treatment.

As an eastern N.C. native, she’s been able to volunteer at home and in the Raleigh, Wilson and Rocky Mount areas.

“That’s really inspired me to go further and use my ability as a bilingual nurse to be able to serve this community,” she said. “I hope to have a great impact especially in the community that I know here in Greenville that really needs assistance.”

She is working as a nurse consultant under the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, a federally funded, three-year, $2.5 million dollar grant that allows the College of Nursing and its partners to build a comprehensive approach to caring for older adults in eastern NC.

Through the grant she leads events geared toward reaching the geriatric community and educates seniors about general health issues such as dementia and falls risk prevention.

“I knew it was very competitive to get into the program at ECU, but I felt like I had the background and the potential to be a great student here and be able to give back to the community,” she said.

A typical day in Merino’s life includes meeting with her running group every day at 4:45 a.m., dashing back home to get her three kids ready for school, travelling to work at a clinic in Goldsboro to see patients, and then studying for her school work in the afternoon.

“Some days I’m a little stressed, but I know that it’s all going to pay off,” she said.

She wants to encourage those that have been out of school for a while that it’s not too late and it’s not hard.

“Anybody can do it. Anybody that finds their interest can come back to school,” she said. “Just do it.”


Your words to live by: It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you choose to react to what happens that matters.

What advice do you have for other students?: Be proactive, not reactive. Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary stress.

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year?:  The library and its endless resources!

This Pirate plans to break language barriers within nursing in eastern North Carolina.


College: College of Nursing

Major: Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner

Age: 36

Classification/Year: Graduate student

Hometown: Magnolia, N.C.

Hobbies/interests: Running, hiking, reading, playing acoustic guitar, singing and spending time with family

Clubs and Organizations: National Association of Hispanic Nurses, Marriage and Family Ministry at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church


Favorite hangout: My house

Favorite place on campus: Laupus Lake because it’s so peaceful

Favorite place to eat: Plaza Azteca

Favorite class: Nursing theory

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Sonya Hardin

Favorite TV show: “Fixer Upper” on HGTV

Favorite band/musician: “Maná”

Favorite movie: “Little Boy”

Favorite website: Pinterest


Dream job: Working as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner

The one thing you cannot live without: Jesus

Role model: Sister Claudia Perez Gonzalez, HSMG