For Arvenia Swan, RN, DNP, NPP, Teaching and Research Center Nurse II, helping people comes naturally.
With 20 years of mental health counseling experience, Arvenia often provides free or reduced-cost counseling to people in her private practice who may be between jobs or who have fallen into difficult circumstances. She also donates her time to many health and wellness fairs, offering health screenings and educating the community on preventive care.
Arvenia was keynote speaker for the local Albert Tinney Senior Citizens Awards Luncheon, where she discussed successful aging. She spoke about mental health for African-American women at the annual health fair of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and participated in the Witness Project, an organization that promoted breast health and breast cancer awareness in the African-American community, offering health screenings and education.
One of the most moving volunteer moments for Arvenia was traveling to Haiti in 2010 with members of the Stony Brook Black Faculty and Staff Association to provide free screening and medical care for earthquake survivors. The experience made her more committed than ever to donating her time to helping people.
Arvenia can often be found mentoring young people and encouraging them to pursue their dreams. She was recently invited to be on a panel of speakers from healthcare professions at a high school, and she often speaks at school health fairs about the nursing profession.
She has been mentoring a young man for 10 years since she met him when he was a student volunteer at Stony Brook. She meets with him – and now with his brother and cousin as well – several times a year to discuss what they are doing with their studies, lives, and careers.
Mentoring is very important to Arvenia, who says it is necessary and powerful. “Without someone showing us a way or guidance, we don’t always have a path,” she says. “We may want to get somewhere but if you don’t know how to get somewhere, you are kind of lost. Mentors can help you find that path.”
For all of her nursing accomplishments, Arvenia was named “Nurse of the Year” twice at Stony Brook, but she says that the best reward is when people tell her that they pursued their dreams due to her encouragement.