Berkeley in Your Community: March of Dimes®

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Student Becomes a Voice for March of Dimes®


Great Oak Berkeley College - Mark of Dimes

“Stephany’s story helps other parents who are feeling lost know that they are not alone.”

Lisa Koss, March of Dimes® Family Team Specialist


When Stephany Vazquez’s water broke 10 weeks early, her world began to fall apart. Her son, Jaithen, was born on March 10, 2013, and suffered from respiratory distress syndrome, a breathing disorder common in premature infants.

Ms. Vazquez and her son spent 43 days in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hackensack University Medical Center. During that time, she found support through the March of Dimes®, a foundation that offers information and comfort to premature babies and families in more than 114 hospitals across the country.

Now Jaithen is a happy and healthy 2 year old, and Ms. Vazquez tells her story to other families in need as a March of Dimes® Mission Mom. She is pursuing an Associate’s degree to become a Patient Care Technician and has brought her mission to Berkeley College, where she raises funds and awareness on campus.

Berkeley College has been involved with the March of Dimes® for several years. In 2011, the foundation received a portion of the $80,000 raised for charities in honor of the 80th anniversary of the College. For the past several years, the Berkeley College School of Health Studies has checked vital signs and screened individuals for high blood pressure during the health fair portion of local March for Babies walks. Students and staff participate in the walk annually through Berkeley Cares, an initiative that supports charities in the areas of food, shelter, health and student success.

“It is wonderful to see Stephany light up and take charge of something she is passionate about,” said Ashante Barnes, Berkeley College Director of Student Development and Campus Life, Clifton. “She is motivated by her son’s experience and her love for him. Her work truly makes an impact in the lives of the students here.”

“Stephany’s story helps other parents who are feeling lost know that they are not alone,” said Lisa Koss, March of Dimes® Family Team Specialist. “Her experience as the mom of a preterm child will give her that extra gentle touch and will make her an exemplary nurse.”

Ms. Vazquez said Jaithen is her inspiration in everything she does.

“My son is a soldier who fought a tough war,” she said. “In my eyes, he is a warrior.”



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