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Nurture and Care

Devoted mentors led her to nursing

The path forward isn’t always a straight line. With the right mix of support, curiosity, and creative wandering, you can sometimes get exactly where you need to go.

During her time at Swarthmore, Sheveen Greene-Adenaike ’07 wasn’t sure what would come next.

“I always had an interest in the health field,” she says, “but was still trying to figure out what would be the right fit for me.”

She took classes in everything from statistics to French, and—as many students do—she searched for a job on campus. The role she took on as a student associate at Worth Health Center would turn out to have a lasting, if unexpected, impact.

“I found a mentor and friend in former director Linda Echols. It was my first experience with what a nurse practitioner does,” she says. “While I had plenty of nurses in my family … I didn’t know of the limitless possibilities that existed in advanced practice nursing.”

Though Greene-Adenaike would carry this lesson with her well past graduation, she didn’t immediately pursue advanced nursing opportunities. Instead, she explored other, unique ways of engaging with the fields of medicine and science, including two years with Harlem Children’s Society, a nonprofit that pairs students from underserved communities with scientists, engineers, and doctors willing to serve as mentors and provide opportunities for hands-on research.

Eventually, Greene-Adenaike enrolled in an accelerated program at Columbia University, earning a master’s in nursing. Now a nurse practitioner specializing in geriatrics, she provides primary vital care that helps her elderly patients safely navigate their environment. Her role requires both medical acumen and the creativity to see the challenges—and possibilities—that her patients face.

“There’s a lot of time spent building rapport, having someone feel comfortable with you,” says Greene-Adenaike. To build this foundation of trust, she draws from her diverse academic and professional experiences.

“My humanities education positioned me to be able to connect with people across the generations, across socioeconomic status, across educational levels,” she says. “It has certainly contributed to a more holistic approach in my nursing practice. I can pull from all those experiences to build that person-to-person connection so that someone is more comfortable opening up to me.”

Being able to talk to patients, for example, about “their favorite European destination or museum, which I may have been able to go to because of a field trip at Swarthmore, breaks down a lot of barriers that might be there at the start of the encounter.”

As her career as a nurse practitioner progresses, Greene-Adenaike continues to explore new ways to foster opportunities and connections in the medical field. She is in the process of launching her own nonprofit, Nurses Empowered, focused on supporting and mentoring nursing students graduating from schools in her native Jamaica.

“We’re starting small, giving out the simple tools they need to feel empowered in their role and build their skills,” she says. “The hope is that each new generation of nurses will grow to possibly mentor other nurses as they are coming out of programs on the island.”

This forward-thinking approach reflects Greene-Adenaike’s commitment to providing access to the mentorship and care she received as her own professional journey began. Even when unsure of the path ahead, she reflects on where she’s been and relationships she’s built along the way.

“I always felt like I had support, like I had someone to turn to, and I can imagine how much more difficult it would have been” without that network, she says. “People like Linda Echols and so many other wonderful, experienced providers I’ve come across through this journey—they’ve really made a difference, and I’m hoping to make a difference for new nurses, as well.”