College News

CCCC grad Salena Vaai Su'e making a difference in time of need

06.17.2020 • College & Community, College General, Students/Graduates

SANFORD - Salena Vaai Su'e says what she likes most about nursing is helping others in their time of need.

She must be doing an admirable job, as the Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) 2016 Nursing graduate was has been recognized by Central Carolina Hospital (CCH) as a recipient of The Nightingale Award. Her awards certificate notes that the award "exemplifies the philosophy and practice of Florence Nightingale by creating a healing environment, attending to the unique needs of each patient in their care and demonstrates appreciation for the nursing purpose."

Beth Skarbinski, CCH Chief Nursing Officer, said of Su'e: "You can only hope to recruit nurses as dedicated, compassionate, and hard-working as Salena. She exemplifies Central Carolina Hospital's mission of creating an environment where people choose to come for healthcare, physicians want to practice, and employees want to work. Salena is an asset to our Emergency Department and we are thankful to have her as a part of the CCH family."

"I serve in the community where I live, and I hope that every day I am at work I can make even the smallest difference in somebody's day," said Su'e. "It can be something as small as a smile, comforting words, or providing life-saving interventions to somebody's loved one."

Being an Emergency Department nurse presents its challenges. "The most challenging part of being a nurse, in my opinion, is the emotional labor," said Su'e. "This field of work has many joys, rewards, and opportunities. It also has death, tragedy, trauma, and violence. We as nurses are expected to always remain professional and keep composure. Our patients and their families look to us for guidance. Being a nurse can be extremely emotionally taxing."

Su'e noted that she enjoyed that CCCC was so conveniently located in the city where she resides. "I truly felt the staff wanted the students to succeed. Everyone at CCCC -- from the recruiters, to financial aid office, advisers, and instructors -- were all willing to help. ... All around, I had an incredibly positive experience at CCCC from start to finish."

Su'e faced her share of challenges in becoming a nurse. "I had children at a young age and did not go straight to college after high school. I did not even know how to start the process," she said, noting that one day she was driving down a Sanford street when she saw a tent set up in front of a drug store." It was a CCCC display that read "sign up now." And so she did.

Su'e talks about the financial challenges that were assisted by financial aid, scholarships, and daycare assistance. Then there were the time challenges with school, work, and children. And, she said she had to overcome "negative people and negative thoughts." "Many people did not take me seriously or believe I could pass the program," said Su'e. "I could have succumbed to the naysayers and quit or chosen a different path. I am proud that I used that negative energy as motivation to prove that, yes, I can do it."

She said she would advise someone who may be considering CCCC for their educational journey to give them a call to schedule a tour or speak with someone about the services provided. "Even if you are looking for a four-year degree, you can complete your first two years at CCCC and transfer to a different college," said Su'e. "CCCC has made a lasting impact on my education and the resources made available to me as a student played a critical role in my success."

To learn more about Central Carolina Community College, visit

CCCC grad Salena Vaai Su'e making a difference in time of need

Salena Vaai Su'e (seen here holding Nightingale Award) is pictured with Central Carolina Hospital officials (left to right) Chief Executive Officer Spencer Thomas, Emergency Department Director Julie Kelly, and Chief Nursing Officer Beth Skarbinski.

CCCC grad Salena Vaai Su'e making a difference in time of need

Salena Vaai Su'e says what she likes most about nursing is helping others in their time of need.