When Anthony Vincent entered the Catholic University School of Nursing in the fall of 2015, he expected to spend the first two years learning from his textbooks and teachers. But, by last April, Vincent had landed a summer job as a home health care assistant to a Catholic University alumnus living with muscular dystrophy. Suddenly, Vincent had to take the things he learned in the classroom and test them against real life.   

“It was a huge responsibility,” said Vincent. “It was kind of scary at first. I thought, ‘I’m only 19 years old, how am I going to do this?’ But over time it became so much easier, like I had a knack for it. It was something that definitely confirmed what I wanted to do. It kind of locked my path into nursing.”

From April to July, Vincent rose early several days a week to arrive at the home of his employer by 5:30 a.m. Vincent helped the man bathe, dress, take his medication, and care for his home and pets while his wife was at work.

Early-morning conversations changed their relationship from one of professional courtesy to something akin to family. “Having that relationship with them made the job easier and more worthwhile. In the end, it was less of a dependence-on-me thing and more like they were close to my heart and I needed to take care of them,” he said.

Although the opportunity provided Vincent with plenty of time to practice his skills as a future nurse, he says he is most grateful for the lessons he learned in positivity and perseverance. “I have never met someone with such a positive outlook . . . he wakes up with a smile on his face and was always kind and concerned about me and my own life. Being around him was very empowering. It had a huge impact on my life, and definitely on my nursing career.”

In the future, Vincent hopes he can model his first patient’s empathy and optimism when working with low-income Hispanic communities. He is pursuing his certification in Spanish for Health Care and says that his Catholic faith reminds him of his duty to the less fortunate. “The Catholic faith teaches respect for human dignity, human lives,” he said. “The poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich, they all deserve good medical care no matter what.”