Snap! The break of a branch sounds as a woman walks across it. She continues her stroll, pausing every so often to take in the magic surrounding her. The shrill song of swooping birds reaches her as she travels back to her car and down the highway to Carmel High School. As she arrives, she’s greeted warmly by teachers and students. She walks into her newly-expanded office. She sits down at her desk, taking a deep breath, and feels calm and appreciative.
Susan Pierszalowski, more commonly known as “Nurse Susan,” acquires the utmost respect from everyone she meets.
Jay Christensen, Carmel’s Sports Medicine teacher, works closely alongside her when it comes to student-athletes.
“If an athlete has a concussion, she is the liaison between myself and the teachers,” he explains. “If it wasn’t for her, the accommodations our students-athletes get in the classroom would be significantly less.”
Any person she looks after can easily see the care and concern Pierszalowski shows for students is not feigned.
“[She] is genuinely kind and remembers every student she comes across,” says senior Audrey Moonan, an occasional patient of Pierszalowski. “[She] really cares about each student’s health and wellbeing.”
After graduating from California State University at Northridge as a History major, Pierszalowski desired to teach. The new graduate ultimately resolved on being a nurse. Her decision was partly based on her past experience volunteering at a local convalescent hospital. Pierszalowski began spending her time around the staff and patients at the young age of fifteen, and, in the end, found herself on the path of becoming a nurse.
“I really liked being around patients and the whole ambiance of it,” the long term caregiver reminisces.
Looking towards the future of her profession, she continued on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from CSU Long Beach and an associate degree in Nursing from a nearby community college. During Nursing school, students go through rotations of many different aspects of medicine.
“I was drawn to pediatrics and psychiatric nursing,” Pierszalowski says. “[It] was just fabulous.”
Her passion for pediatrics and psychiatric nursing caused her to pursue a master’s and school nurse credential from CSU Fresno, which eventually led her to work in Carmel.
Pierszalowski has spent the past eleven years of her career in Carmel Schools. During that time, she divided her time between aiding middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. This year, however, she has remained solely at the high school.
“It is different every day… It never, ever, ever, ever gets boring,” she says lovingly of her job. “Human interaction, and just being able to be present for whoever walks in the door… is the most rewarding thing.”
The fact that she finds reward in her work is displayed by the large amount of time that she spends following up and checking in on students
“She always gives 110 percent when treating kids,” says senior Rachael Schroeder with a smile.
Susan Pierszalowski, a well-versed and doting-mother, describes her greatest achievement as raising two compassionate young adults. But the years put into raising two accomplished children didn’t stop her from making a large impact on the community for the past thirteen years.
The warm-hearted nurse’s never-ending desire to help others has been an inspiration to many, including her kids who work to construct a better future for humankind. Her son is an Arabic speaker who is working to stop the forces of terrorism, and her daughter is focusing on bettering medical information technology.
Pierszalowski’s positivity shines through, not just in her profession, but also her ideology.
“I wake up every morning… being grateful to be alive, looking for the good in everything,” Pierszalowski says. “It’s there, you only have to look. Be kind and present for people.”
When Pierszalowski isn’t in her office, aiding an ill or injured student, one might find her wandering along the rolling grassy hills of Big Sur or staring out over the water of Elkhorn Slough with a pair of binoculars. Her father, an aerospace engineer, was her biggest role model.
“[He] fostered an interest of the outdoors, which is so important to me,” she says. “To me, being outdoors is just like heaven.”
Susan Pierszalowski’s pronounced positivity gleams whether she’s hiking or helping the ill. Her mother-like support, care, and encouragement makes her an essential part of the Carmel High family.