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Student Chose Ursuline College for Nursing and Athletics

By the time she started thinking about college, Odessa Strizzi had already seen more nurses in action than most teenagers. In fourth grade, she had surgery for what turned out to be a benign tumor behind her ear. And at age 15, she had knee surgery, thanks to a soccer injury.

“I was in and out of the hospital and saw these nurses, I saw how much they cared about me, I saw their compassion. Nurses made a long-lasting impression on me,” said Odessa. “And I love science. So, I decided to hop on the nursing path.”

Pursing Nursing + Soccer

The Ottawa, Ontario native began to search for good nursing programs. But there was another criterion. Despite her high school injury, Odessa wanted to continue to play soccer in college.

“It just happened that Ursuline College has a really amazing, Division II soccer program,” she said.

After touring campus, meeting her future soccer coach, talking with faculty, and learning that Ursuline nursing grads have clinical rotations in Cleveland’s top hospitals and a 100 percent employment rate post-licensure, Odessa was hooked. She enrolled at Ursuline, joined the Ursuline Arrows soccer team as a forward, and has never regretted it.

“I love how small it is. Every class, every relationship, it’s just so intimate. It just really makes you feel like a person here. It’s friendly and feels like home,” she said.

Odessa has enjoyed her classes and her clinical rotations, which she called “a big eye-opener.” One-on-one shadowing of registered nurses on hospital wards enabled her to experience what it is like to be the caregiver, instead of the receiver.

“I loved all my clinical rotations, but my favorite was med-surg (medical-surgical). Every case was so different. Now I know I want to be a pre-op nurse.”

Ursuline College. A historically women's college for ALL

Overcoming Obstacles

Her college career was off to a great start when she was hit by a double whammy: the COVID pandemic that changed college life all over the world, and then another knee injury (ACL tear) necessitating surgery. Like any good soccer player, Odessa has learned how to get around obstacles. She has also learned how much her Ursuline professors, classmates, coaches, and teammates truly care.

“I had a really great support system here. Every professor here is absolutely lovely. My classmates got me a wheelchair. My roommate was a nursing major and on my team, so she wheeled me around everywhere. I was very fortunate. I’ve made friendships that will last forever, honestly,” she said.

Advice to Future Nursing Students

Odessa’s advice for future nursing students sounds a lot like what she might say to soccer players: “You need to put your mind to it and stay competitive.”

She added, “There’s no games in nursing. You need to be all in. You need to give 110 percent. It’s a heavy lift. And you need to have a good support system to lean on.”

That’s certainly what she has found. “I would absolutely recommend Ursuline. It just keeps shaping me and I love it.”


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