Emily Gibney '21

Is it okay to be undeclared in college? How do you choose a major at UNH? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered in today's edition of the How I Chose My Major blog series. This series highlights students from different colleges across UNH and explores how they chose their majors and minors, what they've learned through their programs, the coolest places they get to study and so much more!

Today, UNH alumna Emily Gibney '21 talks about coming into the College of Health and Human Services undeclared with the dream of studying nursing. Though being undeclared seemed overwhelming at first, UNH's dedicated advising led to Emily's current path as a Staff RN on the Acute Cardiac Care Unit (ACCU) at Boston Children's Hospital.

Boston Children's Hospital

Me at Boston Children's Hospital, where I've worked since 2021


What was your major at UNH?


Where are you working now?

I have worked at Boston Children's Hospital since September 2021. I started at the hospital as a New Grad RN. I spent six months in the Vaccine Clinic helping with a variety of COVID relief tasks/skills. I transitioned to a New Grad Program in March 2022 on the Acute Cardiac Care Unit (ACCU). I have been working on the ACCU ever since as a Staff RN. Additionally, I am a Per Diem School Nurse for the Framingham Public School system. I started this position in September 2023. 

What was being undeclared at UNH like?

I was very overwhelmed when I started at UNH undeclared. I was so envious of all my peers who were accepted into majors and knew what their future held. Reflecting back, 18 years old is a young age to have it all figured out. I wish I was easier on myself. I know now that it is more than okay to be undeclared. The classes you take at UNH still allow you to explore different specialties and really understand what major might be a good fit for you. If I could do it all over again, I would remind myself that it was always and will always be okay, and the majority of the time it works out better than you could've ever imagined.  

two UNH students at vaccine clinic

Giving vaccines at UNH in 2021

How did you choose your major?

I always knew I wanted to go into nursing. Nursing programs are more than competitive, and I was very discouraged when I did not get accepted into UNH's program originally. However, I knew there was no other career choice that was right for me. I felt determined that with the right guidance and hard work, I would still be able to pursue nursing. I've always loved how much nursing challenges me and allows me to interact with so many different people. It is such an empowering profession and I learn something new every day. 

How did UNH support you as an undeclared student?

The support I felt as an undeclared student at UNH was unbelievable. I remember being a freshman on campus and sitting with my guidance counselor, MaryBeth Carstens, filled with every emotion. She made me feel safe and heard during such a difficult life transition. To think that was over six years ago is so crazy to me; it feels like yesterday. MaryBeth took me under her wing and guided me on the right track. She educated me to take all the right classes and helped me get ready for nursing program applications in the spring of 2018. Although once I was accepted into the program, she wasn't my official guidance counselor anymore, she never stopped checking in and I always brought questions and concerns her way. She is truly one of the reasons I feel like UNH was such a great college experience for me. To say I am grateful wouldn't even begin to cover it.

Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon (I ran for Boston Children's Hospital)

How has UNH prepared you for your current career?

Wonderfully! I always felt like the faculty and staff had my best interest. Even now, almost three years since I graduated, I still feel like I could reach out to my old advisors/mentors when in need. The coursework was challenging. However, it was very appropriate for the profession. All of my clinical experiences were amazing; I learned so much from different nurses in different specialties. My clinicals helped me when deciding I wanted to specialize in pediatrics. 


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