Make Your Paths Straight: Onisim Matei

Posted by Janae Melvin on August 6, 2018 in Onisim.jpeg

Onisim Matei stands out for several reasons. He’s the ninth of 12 children born to Romanian immigrants who came to America to escape communism. He is male in a female-dominated profession. Most importantly, Onisim Matei is different because when faced with the realization he was in the wrong place, he did something about it. Many of us accept status quo or stick with a plan just because it’s what we know. Matei chose to trust in the Lord and let Him make his path straight.

Originally studying Christian Ministry, a series of connected events convinced Matei to stop in the middle of the pursuit of his bachelor’s degree to chase nursing training instead. His sister’s acceptance into a nursing program got him thinking about changing career paths but not because of the differences between his major and nursing but because of their similarities.

“Although nursing requires you to be neutral in your presentation of your worldview,” says Matei, “and to be culturally sensitive and respectful of other viewpoints, that doesn’t mean that Christ’s sacrifice and inspiration doesn’t influence and motivate how I help and care for my current and future patients. My nursing professors also teach that nursing is a ‘holistic profession,’ meaning that we not only care for the person’s physiological needs, but also their emotional, psychosocial and spiritual wellbeing. When I think about it, I am still utilizing what I learned in my Christian Ministry classes by serving people and putting their needs above my own.”

During Global Issues in the Liberal Arts, Professor Michael Ayodele mentioned he also taught at a nearby nursing school. Matei tucked that information away subconsciously and after his sister’s news, he decided to explore that connection further. He stopped his professor one day after class to ask about the possibility of switching to nursing. Ayodele’s enthusiastic response affirmed Matei’s instinctual draw to the program.

“What really surprised me is that he explained that the nursing degree was offered by OU, and most likely a majority of my credits would transfer over. He was right, and that week I scheduled an appointment with the nursing advisor, who a week prior I had no idea even existed and we paved the way toward the transition process.” Matei eagerly agreed to the work necessary for acceptance
into the fairly new partnership and education model.

In the fall of 2016, OU’s Bachelor of Science Nursing program added a sub-program titled the Concurrent Enrollment Program (CEP) which partners with a community college associate degree nursing program in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) in Phoenix. In this model, students earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree online from Ottawa University while concurrently pursing their Associate of Applied Science in Nursing Degree from MCCCD.

A year later, after completing his missing biology requirements, Matei applied for the CEP program. He knew the program was highly competitive so as a Plan B, he returned to San Antonio to visit his family and explore nursing school options in that area.

“I vividly remember being in the car with my mom,” says Matei, “as she was driving me to the airport. We were discussing how I would move to Texas and find a new job and that is literally when I got my acceptance letter from the community college stating that I got accepted into the CEP program. I screamed for joy and excitement and my mom began to weep and thank the Lord for opening doors
for me.”

Matei, along with his fellow CEP students, is now earning two degrees at once while also maintaining work and personal responsibilities. He recently finished the first of four blocks of classes. Matei enjoys the camaraderie and close friendships he’s developed. He knows his fellow students are there to motivate and encourage him and he hopes to do the same for them. Matei also appreciates the career flexibility a nursing degree offers upon graduation.

Director of Nursing Kathy Kump calls these students her heroes because they successfully take continuous, year-round classes (no summer breaks) for six 16-week semesters. The program is grueling but more and more nursing students are choosing this path because it is cost-effective and a faster approach to obtaining a BSN degree compared to the traditional route.

“The CEP program takes a huge amount of dedication and persistence,” says Heather Faustich, Matei’s enrollment advisor. “It isn’t easy taking classes at both OU and the community college. This program says a lot about the character of the student and their willingness to follow their
dream to become a nurse. I’m very honored to work with Onisim and all of these students.”  

“Onisim struck me right away as an exceptional student,” says Kump. “He is very responsive to his instructors and consistently communicates with them. He puts forth one hundred percent effort and is extremely dedicated to his studies. In addition, his warm and friendly personality is contagious both in his verbal as well as his written communication.”

After he graduates in December 2019, Matei plans to continue his Ottawa University education by then completing his Christian Ministry studies. Who knows where God’s path will take him after that?

“My parents came here with nothing,” says Matei, “and they always emphasized to their children that nothing is given to you, you ought not to make excuses and you should work hard for your dreams. My parents came to this country so that their children would have a better life and so that opportunities which were not available to them would be open to their children. I am fortuante my parents did that for me and my family.”