This Father-Daughter Duo Shared a Passion for Nursing. Now They Share an Alma Mater.

By Emily Barrett, Assistant Directors of Communications
A photo from the past shows Gary and Stephanie posing together next to Gary's paramedic vehicle.
From a young age, Stephanie Pollino (right) was inspired by her father Gary (left) to embark on a career in healthcare. This May, both will graduate with nursing degrees from Widener.

Commencement is a milestone moment for students. It can be an even greater moment for a graduate’s proud parents.

For father-daughter duo Gary and Stephanie Pollino, this year’s commencement holds special significance, as they will both receive Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees at a mini ceremony on campus.

It doesn’t happen too often where the parent and child get to graduate and walk together. That’s been an exciting highlight of life. —Gary Pollino '21

A recent photo of Gary and Stephanie posing together in their scrubs.
Gary and Stephanie Pollino.

The Plainview, New York residents both came to find Widener’s nationally-ranked program to launch and advance their careers. Stephanie was the first to enroll after being drawn to the program for its small class size and state-of-the-art simulation center. 

“As soon as we got to campus and took a tour, we really fell in love with Widener,” said Gary. 

Stephanie, who hopes to go into pediatrics medicine, credits her dad’s career in health care as her inspiration to become a nurse.

I would say my dad is 90 percent of the reason I went into nursing. —Stephanie Pollino '21

With nearly two decades of experience, Gary has worked across a number of health care roles from provider to administrator. After working as a paramedic in New York City he made the decision to earn a nursing degree and went into emergency medicine. 

About two years ago, he began seeking a bachelors program to fit his busy schedule and career goals. Stephanie’s success and growth in the program put the school’s RN-to-BSN online program at the top of the list. 

“I decided to make the jump to a BSN and when I started to look at programs I looked into Widener and saw that they had an online two year RN-to-BSN program. It seemed to be a no-brainer to start the program,” said Gary. 

He said the qualities that attracted him to the program as a parent, such as the small class size and supportive faculty, also appealed to him in a student capacity.

“The support that Widener offered was really pro-student,” Gary added.

That support extended to Stephanie as well. Like many of her classmates, COVID-19 significantly impacted the second half of Stephanie’s academic career. Though the changes in course delivery and clinical experiences weren’t anticipated, the outcomes brought transformational learning opportunities.

Earlier this year she participated in the COVID-19 vaccination program at Crozer Health’s Delaware County Memorial Hospital as part of her clinical requirement. She embraced the opportunity to join the fight against COVID-19.

“That was probably my favorite clinical experience because we got hands-on experience and I felt like I was a part of nursing and making a difference,” said Stephanie.

As commencement approaches, Stephanie is more than ready to step into the role of care provider alongside her biggest fan and inspiration: her dad. 

“I’m really close with my dad so the fact that my dad was a big part of why I went into nursing, it’s funny – in the best way possible – that I get to share this with him,” said Stephanie. 

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