Amy Tortoriello has experienced a lot of wonderful things since she began her study at Georgia Southern. She was working in a nursing externship program at Northside Hospital Atlanta last summer when she had one experience that few could top.

“The most exciting thing I’ve done in college, hands down, has been during my externship in labor and delivery last summer,” said Tortoriello. “I had the opportunity to help deliver my niece. It was one of the best days of my life”.

What’s also great about the externship program is that she gets to work with her older sister, Jenny Andris, who has been a labor and delivery team leader at Northside for more than 10 years. Tortoriello learns directly from her sister who inspired her to study nursing.

Totoriello continues working at Northside a day or two per month as needed, or whenever she has time off from the intensive study and clinicals required by the Georgia Southern nursing program. The senior from Johns Creek, Georgia, plans to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s in nursing.

Things didn’t start out easy for Tortoriello. Her first year at Georgia Southern was difficult, but her professors made it much easier, especially Matthew Williamson, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology.

“I was having a difficult time getting my bearings and I was struggling in my anatomy class,” explained Tortoriello. “I remember sitting with my professor and just wondering if this is actually the right thing for me because I was having such a hard time. Dr. Williamson told me if I was really passionate about nursing and if it’s really what I wanted to do, then I can do it. And he helped me study for tests and from there on out, I started soaring.”

Tortoriello’s struggles didn’t end there. During her sophomore year, a critical semester that would determine her entry into the nursing program, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.

“It just took a lot of work figuring out how I was going to balance my work life, school life and personal life while dealing with my mom’s cancer. And I had to make sure to set aside time for myself. But mom is cancer free and is doing amazing now.”

After graduation, Tortoriello wants to continue nursing and after that, more college might be in the offing.

“I would love to continue working in labor and delivery after college and I would eventually like to become a nurse practitioner. That’s the ultimate goal for myself.”

When asked what she likes most about Georgia Southern, Tortoriello shares a good philosophy.

“If you’re going to Georgia Southern, you will absolutely love it. It’s such an amazing school. And no matter what your major is, what program you’re going into, stick with it. Because we all doubted ourselves in the beginning and we’ve all made it out perfectly fine. So if you have a dream or a goal that you want to make, just go for it.” — Liz Walker

“Externships are a win-win situation for both the health care industry and our students,” said Melissa Garno, chair and professor in the School of Nursing. “Because if a student can get an externship during the summer or even during the school year, it supplements their education with real world experience.”

Amy Tortoriello works with a baby simulation