Shine Watkins is a registered nurse who works with patients receiving liver and kidney transplants or coping with serious diseases. She puts in 12-hour days—and sometimes nights—at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and finds the work fascinating and challenging.

“Nurses are the liaison between the patient and the doctor,” Watkins says. They have “the humbling responsibility to make a patient feel like a person, rather than just a medical record.”

When Watkins arrived at Barnard, she planned to attend medical school, but after shadowing doctors and doing a research project with the Visiting Nurse Service, she found herself drawn to the nursing profession, which she felt provided deeper interaction with patients. “Physicians study medicine, treat diseases, and find a cure. Nurses practice medicine, treat the patient, and provide education,” says Watkins, who majored in biology and Spanish and Latin American cultures.

After Barnard, she entered an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program—for those who already have a bachelor’s degree—at the College of New Rochelle, where she was asked to mentor other students.

At Hopkins, Watkins is the diabetes coordinator for the floor where she works, which treats transplant patients as well as those with ailments such as Crohn’s disease. The hospital serves many people who don’t speak English, making Watkins’ Spanish language skills crucial. “There are so many things that get lost in translation, or patients who say, ‘Okay, sure,’ but they don’t quite understand,” Watkins says. “It’s important to have a nurse who can speak their language and understand their cultural practices.”

A native New Yorker, Watkins says being a “bold Barnard woman” gave her the confidence to move to a new city for her career. She is interested in earning a master’s degree in public health and may eventually study nursing education to expand her role as a mentor and “educate those who wish to enter the field I love so much.”