NEWS

Mount grad student to receive dual master’s degrees at upcoming commencement

Newburgh resident enrolled in Mount Business, Nursing programs simultaneously
May 15, 2018

Christian Plaza of Newburgh, N.Y. (right) was recently honored at Mount Saint Mary College’s annual White Coat ceremony. He was one of nearly 40 students in the nurse practitioner program’s Class of 2018.

Christian Plaza of Newburgh, N.Y. (right) was recently honored at Mount Saint Mary College’s annual White Coat ceremony. He was one of nearly 40 students in the nurse practitioner program’s Class of 2018.

 

On a warm afternoon about a week before Mount Saint Mary College’s 55th Annual Commencement, Nursing and Business graduate student Christian Plaza spent a rare free moment discussing his academic evolution, current success, and vision for the future. 

Plaza will be the only student at the college’s upcoming commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19 to earn two master’s degrees simultaneously: a Master of Science in Nursing and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Health Care Management. 

Plaza completed the two degrees at the Mount simultaneously, in addition to working full-time as the clinical and business director at Cross Valley Health and Medicine, which he founded in 2007 with his husband Dr. Paul Saladino. The impressive academic achievement took a little over three years.  

“I was fortunate that I had the right support system and a clear vision of where I wanted to be in the future,” he said. “Having both degrees carries much more weight. Your opinion is much more valuable.” 

Plaza, who also earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Mount in 2014, will step onto the Mount’s Commencement stage a nurse, and exit a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who provide high quality health care services. They can diagnose, treat, and prescribe across a wide range of health problems. Mount nurse practitioner graduates can enter primary care practices, including family health and internal medicine, acute care settings such as hospital positions and urgent care, and more.

Cross Valley Health and Medicine in Newburgh serves about 7,200 patients, some of which Plaza will take on after graduation. In addition to general care for everyone, the practice provides specialized health care to diverse populations, including individuals suffering from addiction, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, individuals who speak Spanish and Italian, and more. 

“The Mount has given me more tools I can use to give us an advantage,” he said. “The MBA component helps me with different ways to strategize and connect with niche populations – that’s our strength. On top of that, having the family nurse practitioner component enhances the way we provide care and the practice itself.”

Plaza recommends obtaining both degrees to individuals who want to make the most out of their health care career. 

“It’s difficult for sure doing the dual degrees,” said Plaza. “But if you want to have a true leadership role, this is the only way to go. It provides a whole new view of the health care system.” 

Helping people has always been near to Plaza’s heart. In 2014 and 2015, Plaza lent a healing hand in two of the Mount’s Nursing humanitarian journeys to the Dominican Republic. Christian Plaza of Newburgh, N.Y., a Mount Saint Mary College graduate student, provides medical attention in an impoverished shanty town in the Dominican Republic in 2014. Plaza will graduate with two master’s degrees on Saturday, May 19.

RIGHT: Christian Plaza of Newburgh, N.Y., a Mount Saint Mary College graduate student, provides medical attention in an impoverished shanty town in the Dominican Republic in 2014. Plaza will graduate with two master’s degrees on Saturday, May 19. 

Now, in addition to taking on a caregiver role at Cross Valley Health and Medicine, Plaza says he wants to help “empower other students” on their journeys to success as well. 

“I’m about to accomplish two goals I always had,” Plaza said. “So I’m hoping to give back. If I can give part of myself to make someone else better than they are, I’m all about it.”

After graduation, Plaza plans to continue doing volunteer work through the professional organizations he is involved in, including the Nurse Practitioner Association of New York State. 

“It doesn’t end with the Mount,” he explained. 

But in many ways, his journey began at the college, he added. Plaza credits several professors with supporting him and helping him to be the success he is today, including Moira Tolan, professor of Business and Business Program Graduate Coordinator, and Susan Schulmerich, associate professor of Nursing.

“I am so happy that I had the opportunity to be taught by them,” he said. “Their perspectives and experiences in health care expanded my knowledge and abilities.” 

Plaza has a 4-year-old daughter and lives in Newburgh with Dr. Saladino.