Mariana is currently a Project Coordinator at Frontage Laboratory.
Mariana attended Franklin and Marshall College in beautiful Lancaster, PA. Her dedication to education and a High School GPA of over 4.0 combined with a devotion to helping others earned her a very generous scholarship from her college, plus two other small grants that combined to provide a full ride.
Mariana’s passion for health care was fired by adversity, and by stoked by an internship. “At first I wanted to be a lawyer because a doctor really hurt my dad. One doc gave him the wrong medication and a second doctor performed surgery incorrectly. He couldn’t even sit up straight. He had several surgeries that were really botched.
Her desire to make things right through legal channels soon gave way to a new passion for becoming a health care professional. Participating in the Healthcare Connections program at St. Joseph’s Hospital through her school, Mary Help of Christians Academy in North Haledon, solidified her commitment. “I interned in the ER department and got to see some surgery,” says Mariana. “At that point I thought I wanted to work in this field. Helping someone when they most need it – I would find it very rewarding.”
Soon Mariana studied to become an EMT, graduating at the top of her class. During EMT training, she also became valedictorian of her senior class at Mary Help. She was also secretary of the National Honor Society, a tutor, and a school ambassador and alternated between debate club, linguistics, healthcare occupations of America, and traveling dance program through which she taught dance to children. Perhaps most revealing of her character and values is the award she received for completing the most service hours of any student during all 4 years in high school.
Growing up in Wayne, Mariana understood the value of hard work and the grace that can come unexpectedly from the kindness and commitment of a caring stranger. “My mom, Veronica, came here from Guatemala because of a kind American couple who sponsored her and found her a job as a nanny,” says Mariana. She described Veronica’s impoverished circumstances, living in a small shack in rural Guatemala, and the benevolence of the couple who provided her with a way out, and a new life in the United States. Eventually she met and married James an immigrant from Italy and together they have worked hard to provide a secure home for Mariana and her brother Dominick, 15.
Marie Hess, Director of Healthcare Connections and teacher of all life sciences provided ongoing support and advice to Mariana. Calling her “a true scholar,” Mrs. Hess lauds Mariana as a “very dedicated. She went well beyond the text book. When you have a student that’s that enthusiastic you really want to work with them. In her senior year, she passed Rutgers exams and earned 14 college credits.
Mariana realizes the important role Tri-County has played in her success and she is very grateful.
“Being able to attend a private Catholic school was really important to my mom. She had me apply even though we couldn’t afford it. That’s when I applied to Tri-County, and only then could we afford it. Everything that I’m doing in my life, I try to do it for everyone who’s supporting me in my education, and when I’m older I want to do the same for kids like me,” says Mariana.