ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In the 12 months that the world has spent fighting COVID-19, healthcare professionals have stepped up, sacrificing time at home with family to wage war on the pandemic from the frontlines. 

What You Need To Know

  • UCF nursing program seeing surge in applications

  • College of Nursing saw a 26% increase in applications for the coming year

  • Many students said they have been inspired by the work of nurses during the pandemic

​That hard work is having an impact on the next generation of nurses, doctors and medical professionals as students inspired by their determination to help others now change career paths.

“I am so excited to be fully hands on,” said Morgan Ruggiero, a sophomore at UCF. 

For Ruggiero, the pandemic hasn’t dulled her interest in higher education, but it has convinced her to change her major. 

Strict rules due to COVID-19 left her all alone in a hospital a few months back when she needed surgery and her family was unable to come inside to be with her. 

“They dropped me off at the front doors," Ruggiero said. "I walked in by myself and then they wheeled me out by myself, so I was pretty much without family the entire time. But this nurse never left my side."

The dedication, hard work and constant care by her side from the team of nurses while she was in the hospital inspired her. 

“After going through that experience, I definitely knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Ruggiero said. 

“We’re excited to see so many new students interested in nursing," said Dr. Jessica Simmons, Assistant Dean of Students for the UCF College of Nursing. "This year, we had an unprecedented amount of students apply to our traditional BSN program."

UCF’s College of Nursing is seeing a 26% increase in applications for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN programs for this coming year.  Some students, like Ruggiero, want to transfer within UCF while others are coming back to school entirely to start a new career. 

“We were very surprised to see that number, we were not expecting that especially with the economic uncertainty of a lot of people going to school. We were really surprised to see that students are still really committed to higher education at this point,” Simmons said. 

Simmons says many of those applying have been inspired by the hard work of nurses fighting this pandemic from the frontlines just like Ruggiero. 

Now waiting to see if she’ll get into the program, Ruggiero said she's hopeful that with the right training, she too can one day work on the frontlines to help care for others. And while she made this life decision only a few months ago, it’s one she believes will take her through her professional career to come. 

“When I went to switch, my parents asked me are you sure you want to do this, you see the people that are going through it right now, are you going to be able to do that?" Ruggiero said. "And it’s kind of a weird feeling you have, like yeah, this is what I want to do. I want to help people and I want to change their lives."

UCF’s College of Nursing enrolls and graduates the most pre-licensed BSN students of any other public university in the state.