TO THE POINT:
CAMDEN CITY– Taylor Lorchak’s final semester at Rutgers University‒Camden turned out to be more exciting than she could have dreamed: the Rutgers–Camden nursing student was activated by the Army National Guard to care for military veterans and family members recovering from COVID-19.
In April, when coronavirus cases began to surge in New Jersey, she was called to serve at the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home in Edison.
A combat medic and sergeant in the Army National Guard for four years, Lorchak assisted nursing staff by taking vital signs and performing tasks such as helping with patient hygiene.
“I did not envision my last semester ending with a pandemic and having to leave home at a moment’s notice,” says Lorchak, of Claymont, Del. “However, I was happy to participate in something I love, which is caring for patients.”
During her nearly one-month deployment, Lorchak continued taking classes in the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden’s 15-month accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another major.
With the assistance of Rutgers–Camden Office of Veterans and Military Affairs Director Fred Davis, Lorchak was able to arrange with faculty to continue her studies, meet class requirements, and graduate on time in May.
“Although I was tired from working seven days a week during my activation, the fact that I was being supported by countless Rutgers faculty and colleagues gave me the motivation to do my best,” says Lorchak.
Her fellow students in the class of 2020 accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program showed their support for her and the Army National Guard by donating a lunch from Panera Bread to the entire group of soldiers working at the Veterans Memorial Home.
Inspired by her older brother Peter, a cardiac ICU nurse, Lorchak decided to become a nurse. While she was finishing a degree in music performance at The College of New Jersey, she began taking nursing school prerequisites.
An accomplished musician, Lorchak has played the French horn in an orchestra, a French horn choir, a woodwind quintet, and a wind ensemble. She took a break from performing while attending nursing school and serving in the Army National Guard, but she hopes to get back to playing the French horn after she is settled in her nursing career.
In June, she will begin a one-year nurse residency at WellSpan York Hospital in York, Pa., where she will care for cardiac patients.