Celeste Arteaga became what is believed to be the first St. Ambrose University nursing student commissioned into the U.S. Navy Nurse Candidate Program during a ceremonial swearing-in on Dec. 18 at the Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis.
Arteaga, a Level 2 student in the SAU Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, was one of just 75 applicants nationwide accepted into the Navy program this year.
Arteaga originally applied for the Navy Nurse Candidate program's two-year commission after earning a degree in health sciences from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2015, but was not among the 10 applicants accepted.
"I love coming here to St. Ambrose, and I love all of my professors. They are really involved, and the small class sizes allow for more personal interaction. They have made me a better student."
She re-applied earlier this year for the one-year commission program, which accepts 65 applicants from across the country. She said she is certain her time in the SAU Nursing Program boosted her application this around.
"It has been a really rigorous program," said Arteaga, who studied pre-med at Drake with an eye on medical school but realized the consistent patient contact in nursing suits her better. "This program has made me a harder worker because I am always trying to stay on top of my studies."
A native of Rock Island, Ill., Arteaga chose the SAU nursing program over a larger nearby university and is happy that she did.
"I love coming here to St. Ambrose and I love all of my professors," she said. "They are really involved and the small class sizes allow for more personal interaction. They have made me a better student."
Arteaga will use the bonus and monthly stipends from her Navy commission to pay for tuition and books as works toward graduating with her BSN in December of next year.
She will attend officer training school in Rhode Island in early 2019 and then serve a four-year commitment as a Navy nurse with an option to continue.
"This is something I really want to do," she said.