2013 Grad Incorporates Music Ministry into Her Passion for Nursing
By Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau
A musical performance was not part of the original agenda when GCU’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions decided to honor its nurse preceptors with a tea reception today on National Nurses Day.
But, then again, event coordinator Janet Fleming hadn’t yet met Carmela Fernandez.
“I didn’t know who she was when I was at an appreciation reception two weeks ago at the Foundation For Senior Living (in Glendale),” said Fleming, a longtime adjunct faculty member at Grand Canyon University. “I saw a student across the room wearing purple scrubs and all of a sudden all the staff members come up to me and say, ‘She is phenomenal! She has brought her guitar in and sung to our clients. She even wrote a song for them.’”
It didn’t take long for Fleming to be introduced to Fernandez, and even less time for Fleming to invite her to perform at today’s event.
“I’m honored to be able to sing at appreciation day for our nurse preceptors,” said Fernandez, a nursing student at GCU’s Scottsdale Healthcare cohort program who had been performing clinical duties for seven weeks at the Foundation For Senior Living. “All these preceptors, they work so hard, especially for
our community health nurses.”
Fernandez, 32, who has been singing since she was a child, incorporates music into her nursing when she feels the situation is right.
“It has to be the right patient. You have to be discerning when it comes to those types of things,” Fernandez said. “But when the right opportunity comes, I sing to my clients or patients. It’s more like musical therapy, especially for Alzheimer’s patients or ones with dementia. They really enjoy singing certain songs.
“I’m not certified, but in the future I hope to get certified in music therapy and add that to my nursing career and degree. I’m open to wherever God is leading me in regards to music.”
Fernandez said patients will often be singing a song on their own like “Jesus Loves Me” and “I’ll be, like, ‘Oh I love that song,’ and join in. Then we’ll start talking about other songs.”
VIP Appreciation Tea Carmela Fernandez will sing and play the guitar when GCU honors its nurse preceptors and community members with a tea reception from 4-5:30 p.m. today in the lobby of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions.
Fernandez has also written 10 of her own original songs, plus choruses or parts to countless others. She wrote “Rejoice” – a song about dealing with a bad day by realizing that God is still there, no matter what.
“One day, a patient wasn’t having a good day and I shared that song because I knew this particular patient read the Bible,” said Fernandez, who then broke out into song. “Rejoice, rejoice, always. You gotta rejoice, rejoice, always for the good times. Rejoice, rejoice, even in the bad, just remember God has a plan.”
“That therapy is telling them that everything is going to be OK in a most universal way,” Fernandez added. “Music just has a deeper meaning because it’s in song. It’s like ministry for me.”
After attending high school in Clifton, Va., Fernandez got her bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from the University of Maryland in 2006. She and her husband moved to Arizona and she was a stay-at-home mom for her two children initially before entering the workforce selling computer services.
“I was so unhappy,” Fernandez said of her first business-related job. “I’m sure it’s great for people who are good at that, but I was terrible. I didn’t meet my quotas. I just wasn’t good. So I prayed to God about what other possible career I could do where I could help people.”
That led her to GCU, where she was able to care for her children at her home in Goodyear during the day, then drive to Scottsdale at night for classes.
Last week, Fernandez participated in commencement (she is only a couple months shy of completing her nursing degree) in front of about 15 family members from Nevada, California, Kentucky and Virginia. One of those – her father, Norberto Marfori – is still in town and will help her perform at today’s reception by playing the bongos and occasionally picking up a guitar himself.
“Both my parents sang in college, so I grew up around music,” Fernandez said. “It wasn’t until I became a Christian toward the end of high school that I discovered gospel choir in my church. That’s when I feel like I blossomed into my own type of artist. I wanted to start writing music for the Lord.
“Now, everything is to glorify God. I really feel God is giving me the opportunity to perform but also share God and His love and His word.”
Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.