Cacanindin looks to nursing to better others’ health

Published 2:30 pm Friday, July 28, 2023

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It’s a time for celebration for Graduate Zoe Cacanindin is enjoying the celebration that goes with being named 2023 valedictorian at Nansemond River High School.

Cacanindin said despite obtaining this honor in high school, the process towards her achievements started long before then with many years of hard work. 

“I have gotten used to preparing in advance for my courses and learning how best to understand the information being taught to me,” Cacanindin said. “Classes I’ve taken from early on helped to strengthen my foundation in core subjects and reinforce my work ethic. It was necessary for me to keep up my high performance throughout my academic years and stay motivated to do the best I could.”

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She noted that despite the workload and her outside responsibilities becoming overwhelming, she found it “critical” to keep putting in her best effort.

“This included participating in honors, dual enrollment, and AP courses, which helped me to increase my GPA and advance my knowledge in various subjects. Diligently studying for other exams, such as the SAT and ACT, was necessary as well, despite them not counting toward my GPA,” Cacanindin said. “Outside of my schoolwork, I still made sure to be engaged in school in an extracurricular aspect, doing my best to obtain positions that would enable me to effectively lead other students.”

Cacanindin said that time management was imperative for her.

“Understanding how to delegate time to study, complete assignments on time, prepare for presentations, attend club meetings and get ample rest was what made achieving valedictorian at Nansemond River possible,” she said.

On delivering her valedictorian address to her NRHS peers, Cacanindin recalls it was a “nerve-wracking” experience because she didn’t get the chance to practice in front of a large group.

“Funnily enough, though, I was more nervous about leading a line of students and possibly walking in the wrong direction on the way into the stadium,” she said. “Thoughts were running through my mind of if my small jokes would be received well, if I would be able to engage the audience, and if my tassel would fall back to the wrong side of my cap again.”

However, thanks to seeing her friend give his address, who was the school’s salutatorian, she gained confidence. Likewise, Cacanindin noted how she remembered everything she learned in public speaking class to help her give the address.

“I tried to look up at the audience frequently, speak at a decent pace, and be loud enough for everyone to understand my words. I looked at everyone that I addressed both explicitly and implicitly in my speech, as I truly wanted what I said to reach them,” she reflected. “I let go of doubts about the quality of my written speech and just tried to convey my message to the best of my ability. It was relieving to hear some laughs at my school-related references and applause at the end. Even now, I really do hope that I gave a speech that spoke to everyone, whether it be students, staff, families, or others.”

With high school now behind her, Cacanindin is focusing on her future that will see her attend the University of Virginia. She noted the school’s academic reputation being one of the reasons she chose to attend.

“It is ranked as the top university in Virginia due to its wide range of educational programs and commitment to academic excellence. Specifically, the university has a rewarding BSN program, in which I will get the chance to expose myself to a variety of courses and opportunities, such as interdisciplinary research,” Cacanindin said. “As a student at the school of nursing, I will also be able to gain clinical experience starting my second year. Furthermore, UVA has a strong sense of community, including hundreds of clubs and organizations that allow students to pursue their interests.”

Despite not even starting her first year yet, Cacanindin said she has already made multiple friends who have made her feel welcomed in her new journey. After completing her four years of high school, she hopes to earn her bachelor of science degree in nursing to become a registered nurse.

“This would allow me to be on the frontlines of patient care and advocate for patients’ needs, thus ensuring quality care. As a nurse, I would also be able to contribute to the advancements and efficiency of healthcare,” she said. “Having a BSN has the potential to open up even more opportunities as well, so I am thinking about advancing my education in medical school. This way, I can further explore different specializations that interest me, such as oncology, cardiology, and neurology. By being a doctor following graduate school and residency, I could provide preventive care to improve the health of my patients.”

Cacanindin said she hopes to continue serving her community beyond high school, even through volunteer work, clinicals or her career.

“I intend to promote and better the health and well-being of others in my life by providing essential services and providing empathetic support,” she said. “Furthermore, I strive to make healthcare more accessible, thus reducing health disparities affecting certain groups. I plan to do this through research, which I will begin soon, and first-hand work in various communities. Overall, my goal is to make a positive impact by bettering the health conditions of those around me, and that starts with expanding my knowledge in the college setting.”