Mary Dulio

Nursing Graduate Mary Dulio Receives

Florence Nightingale Award for Nursing Excellence

Mary Dulio turned her own health challenges into an opportunity to share her experience with other nursing students at Lorain County Community College.

Dulio, 24 from Wellington, is one of 47 graduates who earned their associate degree nursing (RN) in May 2022 from LCCC. During the nurse pinning ceremony, she received the 2022 LCCC Florence Nightingale Student Nurse Award for Nursing Excellence. LCCC nursing faculty selected Dulio for the award, which is given to a student who demonstrates excellence in the clinical area caring for patients and as an emerging professional.

“Winning this award really solidified for me that I could do anything I truly wanted to do if I worked hard and never gave up,” Dulio said. “It reminded me that no matter the challenges in my way, I could always persevere. Just because my life changed, did not mean it would have to hold me back.”

Dulio has always felt called to work in healthcare. She began taking classes at LCCC in 2018 with plans to complete the nursing program in 2021. That all changed in May 2020, when she found out she was pregnant with her first child.

During her pregnancy, Dulio developed ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. She was hospitalized once during her pregnancy and several times following the birth of her son. Her condition continued to worsen and she and her doctors decided it was necessary to remove her colon. Dulio now lives with an ostomy pouch.

The surgery and life as a new mother was challenging, but Dulio focused on the positive things her life, like her son Robert, who is now 17 months old.

A few months after her surgery Dulio felt ready to resume her classes at LCCC. And she did so with a new perspective gained through her struggles.

“While it was not easy, I can certainly say it has changed me into a different person and it definitely gave me a different outlook on nursing,” she said.

So, when her Nursing 122 class suggested that students share their own health stories, she eagerly signed up.

“Before getting diagnosed with the disease myself, I really did not know a ton about it or what patients truly went through,” Dulio said. “Being able to give my peers a different perspective on a disease and medical appliance that has so much stigma around it was amazing.”

Nursing professor Nanci Berman, DNP RN, was inspired by Dulio’s willingness to share her experience with others, and nominated her for the Florence Nightingale Award.

“Mary chose to take a health issue many would shy away from and share it with nursing students,” Berman said in her nomination. “This selfless act allowed future nurses the opportunity to ask open and intimate questions which may improve the care they will provide others.”

For Dulio, it was nursing faculty, like Berman, who made it possible for her to stay focused as she continued her education throughout her challenges.

“I loved LCCC and every single professor I had was more than amazing,” Dulio said. “They were all incredibly supportive of me and my situation from the day it started. I could not have gotten through it without their encouraging words and support, along with my family cheering me on every step of the way.”

Dulio plans to continue her education to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She would like to work in digestive health or colorectal surgery.

“It is such a rewarding feeling when I work with a patient who has an ostomy or inflammatory bowel disease,” she said. “I am able to have such a different insight on their life and the way I am able to connect with them is something indescribable. I truly feel I have found my calling as a nurse.”

The LCCC associate degree nursing (RN) program is delivered on the main campus in Elyria and at the Bowling Green State University-Firelands campus. Graduates of LCCC’s nursing program pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) at a rate higher than the state average. In 2021, 87.10 percent passed the 2021 exam, surpassing state (79.07 percent) and national (82.48 percent) passing rates. Early data for 2022 shows an 88 percent pass rate for LCCC graduates.

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Mary dulio and son

“I loved LCCC and every single professor I had was more than amazing."

Mary Dulio, Nursing Graduate