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Year Graduated: 2015
Job Title: Registered Nurse, Stanford Health Care
Luzano was working a travel assignment as a surgical nurse at a San Francisco Bay-area hospital. She had barely started the job when suddenly everything changed.
“COVID-19 hits and they get really slammed,” Luzano recalled. “As a travel nurse, they move you around to parts of the hospital that need help, so that’s what happened and I was on a COVID floor almost all the time.”
Sometimes the patients she was treating would be stabilized when their conditions would rapidly deteriorate. The incessant hard coughing and shortness of breath were concerning enough, but what really alarmed Luzano were the fevers that would not seem to break.
“I have been a nurse for five years and I had never seen fevers like this running 102, 103,” she said.
So two hours into that long March shift a parched, worn-out Luzano slipped out of her PPE and paused for a quick break. “I’m really tired and sweaty with all these marks on my face and just glad to be sitting down and taking a sip of water,” she recalled.
“I was just thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I look like this and I have ten-and-a-half more hours to go.’ I took a selfie and posted it on Instagram and then I went back to work.”
She never gave it another thought until a representative from Dove, a brand known for its personal care products, contacted Luzano seeking permission to use her selfie in its “Courage is Beautiful” campaign thanking front-line healthcare workers for their heroic work in the fight against COVID-19. Initially skeptical, Luzano agreed to participate.
Her image soon began appearing in online videos, television ads, and even bus-stop posters. Dove made donations to her hospital and to the nonprofit Direct Relief to provide protective gear and critical care medications to health workers.
“I’m on a bus stop,” she marveled. “It’s silly but it’s kind of cool.”
Luzano credits the training she received in the SDSU College of Health and Human Services with helping her through some of her roughest moments in the COVID-19 unit. “The San Diego State program I went through was so thorough and so rigorous in all aspects that to this day when I have questions about things I do, I still hear my nursing clinical instructors in the back of my head,” she said.
“For someone to survive nursing, from your core you have to know this is something you want to do because not every day is rainbows, butterflies, or unicorns. I have to remember I was born for this. This is something I wanted to do.”
Aztecs Making an Impact