Committed to caring for cancer patients

University of Bridgeport’s RN to BSN Program makes a nurse’s dream come true
Marilyn Santos

Marilyn Santos signed up as a junior hospital volunteer when she was in high school because she wanted to learn more about healthcare. It was a “perfect choice,” she said. The moment she was floated to the hospital’s oncology unit, Reyes knew she wanted to spend her life as a nurse, helping cancer patients.

“I was just very drawn to the idea of providing care,” said Santos. “When patients come in, they may feel frightened and vulnerable. It can be a challenging environment, but it was an area that hit close to home for me.”

In December 2018, Santos will begin working at Stamford Hospital. It’s the same hospital where she served as a junior volunteer just four years ago and the same hospital where she said she “always wanted to end up.” Even better: Santos has been hired to work in the very same oncology unit that had such an impact on her not so long ago.

She credits the University of Bridgeport RN to BSN Program (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) for making her dream come true.

“Stamford Hospital is a Magnet hospital. It’s a prestigious recognition awarded by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center [part of the American Nurses Association] that identifies hospitals for the strength and quality of their nursing. To achieve Magnet Status, hospitals must meet a set of criteria. One of them is having nurses with bachelor’s degrees,” Santos said. “Without my BSN from the University of Bridgeport, I wouldn’t have my job.”

Santos heard about the University of Bridgeport RN to BSN Program in 2017. At the time, she was working toward earning a two-year RN degree from one of Connecticut’s community colleges—but planning her next step.

“I knew going back to school would be important: it would open more opportunities for me,” she said. “I’m the first person in my family to have gone to college. My parents didn’t have the opportunity, so it was very important to my family and me.”

So she began comparing different RN to BSN programs in Connecticut, looking for one that would be affordable and flexible enough for her to study while she continued working full-time as a float nurse in a nursing home. The RN to BSN Program at the University of Bridgeport fit her needs “perfectly,” she said.

The RN to BSN Program at UB covers basic nursing, general education requirements, and upper-level nursing courses. Taught entirely online, it also enables students to study at their own pace. They may also transfer up to 90 credits toward completing the 120-credit program. Moreover, there are six start dates for the RN to BSN throughout the year.

College of Health Sciences Dean Carol Papp, DNP, a longtime expert in nursing education, said that “the University of Bridgeport specifically designed the RN to BSN Program to accommodate students’ individual schedules. We know many are working. Some have families. Online classes give students the freedom over their course schedule, and they can start at any point throughout the year.”

Many students earn their BSNs in two years.

Santos graduated in one.

“I was determined to do it in 12 months,” she said. “After work, I’d go to the library for two or three hours a night and then go have dinner.”

Constant support from her online teachers and classmates helped her to excel. “I learned so much in the RN to BSN Program!” Santos said. “The teachers were very helpful about answering questions and clarifying assignments, and I really liked participating in the class discussions. One of the first things we did [in every class] was an introductory video. We talked about our goals. We did video chats and recorded presentations and shared them. That gave the program a classroom feel, even though it was an online environment. I was able to join nursing societies. That was significant to me, too.”

Santos also credits nursing program Assistant Professor Linda Tampellini, DNP, who oversaw her community service project. “Linda was someone I really looked up to at UB. I could really count on her,” Santos said.

Tampellini was equally impressed: “Marilyn was driven,” she said. “She has the potential to be a really great leader.”

For now, though, Santos is focusing on her most immediate next step: starting her dream job at Stamford Hospital’s oncology unit. “I’m very eager and excited to start my new job and work in a field that I’ve always been passionate about,” Santos said. “I know I am going to be able to grow.  This will be a very rewarding experience.”


To learn more about the University of Bridgeport RN to BSN Program, call (203) 576-4552 or visit