ABSN Graduate Spotlight: Rachel Maj

SANND Class Representative, Peer Mentor and Tutor Discusses Her 15-Month Hybrid Experience at NDMU
Rachel Maj

By: Erik Pedersen, Senior Communications Manager

BALTIMORE – Rachel Maj worked in a variety of medical settings in the years following her 2012 graduation from the University of Redlands with an environmental science degree. She began her professional career as a scribe in the emergency room at Baltimore Washington Medical Center, and she would later work as a medical assistant in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and dermatology departments while also serving as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and firefighter.

Her experience interacting with nurses during a serious family medical situation led Maj to consider joining the profession, and a friend recommended that she look into Notre Dame of Maryland University’s Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

Maj took her friend’s advice and enrolled at NDMU, where she has thrived in the ABSN hybrid delivery format over the past 15 months. A peer mentor, a tutor for the Cultivating Academic Success, Responsibility, and Excellence (CARE) program, and the Class Representative for the Hybrid ABSN program within NDMU’s Student Association of Nurses at Notre Dame (SANND) organization, Maj will be recognized with her fellow graduates at Thursday’s ABSN pinning ceremony in Marikle Chapel on NDMU’s main campus. Learn more about her nursing journey below:

What inspired you to become a nurse?

I was working towards becoming a physician assistant, or possibly a doctor, when my mother became really sick and I had to take time off work to help her as she received end-of-life care. During my time spent in both the ICU and her Continuing Care facility, I really appreciated the support that she and my family received from the nursing staff. I realized how important establishing that bedside relationship was to me, and I thought opportunities to do that were lacking at other health care professional levels. That’s when I decided that nursing would fit both my personality and my professional goals.

How did you first hear about NDMU, and what interested you in the ABSN program?

I actually had a friend who graduated from NDMU’s traditional Bachelor of Science in nursing program during the pandemic – they told me about the new ABSN offering. I was immediately drawn to the program’s format, I knew for my personality that a hybrid setup was what I preferred. I looked into it more, and it just seemed conducive to my learning style.

What was a typical day like as you completed the program? When would you visit the Elkridge Learning Site, and what strategies did you use to complete your online coursework?

We would mainly go to Elkridge (Learning Site) for skills labs and simulations, exams, and exam reviews. My days were built around my school calendar and due dates. I’m a planner person, so I would go through the next couple of weeks, figure out what’s due during that time, prioritize, and just chip away each day. It was great to be able to work from home, because when I needed some self-care or a mental break, I could go outside, go to the gym, get some food, etc. I could do that and then come back and pick up where I left off. Time management skills were very important throughout the ABSN experience.

Have you enjoyed your experience at Notre Dame? Do you feel like you have been set up for success after graduation?

I do – I had a great experience with the clinical aspect. All of my clinical instructors were very knowledgeable and informative. They knew that we were in an accelerated program, but they also took the time to make sure we understood what we were learning, and they gave us plenty of opportunities to practice and develop our skills. The simulations and skills labs in the third semester were my absolute favorite, because that’s when we were required to do a higher level of critical thinking and judgment. It gave me a chance to get in there and practice as a nurse, show what I know and figure out where I needed to improve. I feel like I really thrived in that environment.

What made you want to get involved with the Student Association of Nurses at Notre Dame?

Community is very important to me. I’ve done a lot of community work in the past with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, and through my volunteer fire fighting. I wanted to form a connection with the school. I wanted to be proud of where my second degree was coming from, because this is going to be my career. I joined SANND to help form that connection, and I was thrilled when a professor nominated me to be a class representative. It’s really important to be involved. Nursing is such a tight-knit community, and building those relationships can go a long way.

2022 NSNA Conference Group Photo

Would you encourage other ABSN students to join SANND?

I made it my mission to try to get more ABSN students involved. I attended skills labs for first and second-semester students to talk about the advantages of joining, and I hosted a few additional events at the Elkridge Learning Site during the fall. I think promoting the importance of community involvement to ABSN students from the very beginning of the program would go a long way. I hope that I was able to get the ball rolling, and that some more ABSN students join SANND next semester.

What are your plans after graduation? Do you have a job lined up?

I have a job offer from the University of Maryland Medical Center in their cardiac surgery ICU. I get a thrill from the fast-paced, high-acuity situations. I like to be challenged, and I savor every opportunity to learn. That’s where I’m heading next, and then eventually I plan to go back to school to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.


Established in 1895, Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) is a private, Catholic institution in Baltimore, Maryland, with the mission to educate leaders to transform the world. Notre Dame has been named one of the best "Regional Universities North" by U.S. News & World Report.

Also in the news…