Student: Marianne Congema

East Carolina University senior Marianne Congema has wanted to be a nurse since fifth grade, when her mother had a heart attack followed by an extensive hospital stay.

“I was inspired by the compassion and brilliance that the nurses displayed in the care they provided for her,” Congema said. “Since then, my educational journey has reflected this passion.”

At E.A. Laney High School in Wilmington, Congema pursued an allied health science track and earned her certified nursing assistant (CNA) license. She has worked as a CNA in long-term care and hospital settings through college, “building my patient experience and my love of nursing.”

Congema chose ECU “because of the many opportunities the university had to offer to help me grow personally, scholastically and professionally,” she said. An EC Scholar in the Honors College, she also received early assurance admission to ECU’s College of Nursing — where she plans to enter the Doctor of Nursing Philosophy program after graduation in May.

The coronavirus pandemic has helped Congema grow personally and professionally as a health care provider, she said.

Marianne Congema works in the simulation lab at the College of Nursing.

“Being in the hospital setting, I see firsthand how the pandemic has affected hundreds of lives, and it has changed the way I view and care for patients and their loved ones,” she said. “The pandemic has challenged me to shift the way I learn, utilizing technology like never before.”

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Congema traveled with Dr. Kim Larson and fellow Pirate student nurses to Guatemala, where they operated a free health clinic, volunteered at a hospital, and taught children about handwashing, hygiene and nutrition.

Congema also participated in a Greenville-based research project with Larson aimed at reducing end-of-life care disparities in the Latino community by improving pain management and access to advance care planning. Congema — who received a $1,000 ECU undergraduate research mini award for the project — helped train local Latino leaders to become lay health advisors to community members who have cancer. She has been invited to present the research at a national conference in Austin, Texas, in February through Rising Stars of Research and Scholarship for the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

In a research project with Dr. Katherine Ford, Congema conducted surveys with parents and Latino students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain to identify roadblocks in enrolling and succeeding in higher education. Results were used to design interventions in hopes of making college more accessible to the Latino population.

She has honed her leadership and time management skills as a member of ECU’s Rho Zeta chapter of Chi Omega, where she has served in several leadership positions including vice president. She also has helped raise money and create awareness about the Make-A-Wish Foundation — the sorority’s national philanthropy project.

Congema has participated in ECU’s Greek Life Emerging Leaders Academy and is earning a certificate in leadership through ECU’s Growing Organizational Leadership Development Series. Since 2019, she has served as ECU’s Global Health Committee undergraduate representative and is co-president of People Helping the Aging Community Thrive, an organization that serves the aging community in Pitt County. As a volunteer at Brookdale Senior Living, Congema has planned, organized and conducted two annual crafting days and collected supplies during annual drives.

Following graduation, Congema plans to work part time as a registered nurse while earning a doctoral degree in nursing philosophy with a focus on leadership.

“I hope to be working in the labor and delivery unit as my time in clinical has sparked a passion in women’s and children’s health,” she said.

This Pirate has a passion for caring for others.




Name: Marianne Congema

College: College of Nursing

Major: Nursing

Age: 21

Classification/Year: Senior

Hometown: Wilmington

Hobbies/interests: Spending time with my family, volunteering with the elderly community, research, reading, walking

Clubs and Organizations: Rho Zeta Chapter of Chi Omega; People Helping the Aging Community Thrive; Global Health Committee; Greek Life Emerging Leaders Academy; G.O.L.D. Leaders Series


Favorite hangout: Anywhere with my sorority sisters

Favorite place on campus: Laupus Library

Favorite place to eat: La Ribera

Favorite class: Obstetrics

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Kim Larson

Favorite TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy”

Favorite band/musician: Taylor Swift

Favorite movie: “The Notebook”

Favorite website: TikTok


Dream job: Nursing administrator on the labor and delivery unit at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington

Role model: Mother Teresa

Your words to live by: It is in giving that we receive.

What advice do you have for other students? Always stay humble and be a lifelong learner.

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? There are opportunities every day to become involved in things that interest you.