The 5:00 a.m. alarms, the weekends away and 12-mile “rucks” carrying a 35-pound backpack are worth it. The camaraderie with fellow Duquesne ROTC cadets is a highlight. Life as an ROTC college student is not easy and definitely not for everyone. On top of that, nursing is a major that demands focus, time, dedication and compassion.

Serving others is at the heart of both missions – in the military and as a nurse, for Abby Aiello, a second-year student in the School of Nursing. That calling is a driving force behind her desires to be prepared for anything and to give back.

For her efforts with Three Rivers Battalion ROTC over her first year Aiello was awarded the ROTC Medal by the National Society United States Daughters of 1812, National Defense Committee. Her “demonstration of leadership, military discipline, dependability, patriotism and upright character in speech and habits,” earned her the recognition. The silver medal will be proudly worn on her dress uniform.

Thinking about her bigger goals, Aiello wants to use her experiences at Duquesne to become the kind of leader that everyone looks up to. More immediately, she wants to improve her ability to practice land navigation, an important skill in ROTC. Increasing her deadlift is also a near-term bigger goal.

Born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, Aiello attended Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School in Coraopolis, Pa. She was preceded at Duquesne by her father Jeff, ME’97, and her sister Maggie, N’19. Maggie now works at UPMC Mercy as a registered nurse. Also, her brother Logan attended the St. Anthony’s Program Post-Secondary School, which is based at Duquesne. On top of that, her youngest? sister Malley started at Duquesne this past fall, as a nursing major and is also in ROTC. Her family has quite the Duquesne legacy! 

In August, Aiello started her clinicals on a med-surg floor at UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital. This patient care experience is giving Abby hands-on learning and an insight into how she wants to shape her career within the nursing field. “I played a lot of sports in high school and loved sports. I wanted to play soccer in college but I kind of wanted something that was going to set me up for a career path after college,” she said. “Maggie (her older sister) always spoke well of the nursing program and I was like, I want that.”

“When I graduate, I will be a nurse in the military. And my goal is to go on active duty and work in an Army hospital in North Carolina. I can go just about anywhere, but I kind of want to stay close to home. That’s kind of the whole reason I came to Duquesne too, was to be close to home.”

While ROTC and her nursing course work takes up most of her time, Abby is actively involved in Nurses Christian Fellowship, which seeks to facilitate Christian spiritual growth, foster caring relationships among each member, develop Christian nursing leaders and to assist students in viewing nursing from a religious worldview.

In reflecting back on her choice of nursing and the military, Abby said, “I've always just wanted to be a part of something bigger. I feel like the Army is the biggest you can get to be a part of. A team that's working towards a common goal and that's what I really want to do.”

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June 08, 2023