For Marjorie Pazzi, RN, BSN, CCRP, assuming the role of president of the University of Arizona College of Nursing Alumni Council was a natural fit.
“I always find myself gravitating to those roles,” she says. “I love starting things up, building little empires, finding organizations to be a part of and lead.” As site director for the Center for Neurosciences Clinical Research Program, Pazzi oversees a team that conducts clinical trials for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, rare pediatric epilepsies and brain cancer. She is also a past president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona.
The oldest of seven siblings as well as their frequent caregiver, Pazzi discovered at a young age that she had a talent for caring for others. A long-time Tucsonan and second-generation nurse, she decided on UArizona Nursing to pursue her BSN when she was in the 11th grade. She worked in hospitals and clinics for years before discovering that through research she could take care of patients as individuals while at the same time advancing medical breakthroughs that might help larger populations of patients. Since then, she has developed extensive experience in clinical research, working as Senior Research Nurse and Supervisor of Clinical Research in the UArizona’s Department of Neurology prior to joining the Center for Neurosciences.
“The College of Nursing prepared me for success, no matter what the health care setting, or what type of job it was. I want to give back to the college and my fellow alumni and future wildcat nurses, through connecting, mentoring, career development. That lights me up,” ~ Marjorie Pazzi, RN, BSN, CCRP
Pazzi is thankful her experience in UArizona Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and feels a strong desire to employ her leadership skills to enrich the lives and careers of her fellow alumni. “The College of Nursing prepared me for success, no matter what the health care setting, or what type of job it was,” she says. “I want to give back to the college and my fellow alumni and future wildcat nurses, through connecting, mentoring, career development. That lights me up.”
Taking the reins of an organization in the middle of a pandemic could have been a stumbling block, but Pazzi sees it as a welcome challenge – one that will help the alumni council provide networking and support for an even greater number of Wildcat Nurse alumni. Pazzi assumed her new role in July, but she already has a host of transformative goals for the Council. “I see it being a meaningful connection for nurses during a time when they are really challenged on the frontlines of the battle against COVID,” she says. “We really need each other right now, so that’s a logical place to start. Whether it’s students or new graduates, all of us have a desire to support each other as we go through a global pandemic.”
Pazzi’s main priority is bringing people together. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the constraints forced on the Council by the pandemic will ultimately pave the way to a more robust and inclusive alumni association. For example, this year’s Homecoming Celebration,’ will be entirely online. “We’re planning a virtual awards ceremony and breakfast that will commemorate the Year of the Nurse, a year in which nurses became the heroes of the pandemic” she says. “That might be the silver lining for us, because we can really welcome all Wildcat Nurses. It doesn’t matter where you live, you don’t have to travel or worry about social distancing when you attend this year’s homecoming.”
Other innovations that Pazzi and the Council are planning include rewriting the bylaws to create a Board of Directors composed of Wildcat Nurses who will vote on issues they wish the Council to address. Additionally, there are plans to use the Bear Down alumni Network to build an even more vibrant community. The Network is built to encourage various modes of personal connection, including finding mentors and mentees, offering career guidance, and forging pathways to job shadowing or internship experiences. “I see this as the next level for trying to drive membership,” Pazzi says. “If we can grow our membership we will have a better opportunity to impact the next generation of Wildcat Nurses.”
With its eye on both the past and the future, the Alumni Council will be prepared to address the varied needs of all Wildcat Nurses. Asked about her advice for students considering enrolling in a UArizona Nursing program, Pazzi again highlights the need for the kinds of meaningful personal connections that the Council is poised to address. “I’ve worked a variety of different jobs in different health care settings and I’ve always been able to find success, and a large part of that has been thanks to working with my nurse colleagues,” she says. “I’m still very good friends with many of the nursing students that I went to school with back in the late 1970s. Those are your people and you should keep them close.”