You look at a photograph of UNLV Medicine Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Dianne Galgana and her daughter Penelope -- they’re dressed in red graduation regalia -- and you can’t help but be reminded that a single image can carry a lot of power.
There’s pure joy in the photos. Pride of accomplishment. Love for each other. Love for life.
It doesn’t even seem too much of a stretch to suggest that the captured smiles of both mother and daughter display an awareness of a simple fact: Education can make dreams a reality.
As wonderful as the pictures are -- they were taken by a Galgana family cousin in Las Vegas -- keep in mind they were an improvisation, one that made sense when COVID-19 wiped out Dr. Galgana’s spring graduation at the University of Cincinnati (UC).
After receiving permission from UC administrators -- she had done her studies largely online , Dr. Galgana had been planning to walk down the aisle to receive her Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with Penelope walking alongside her in a robe she received when graduating from kindergarten. Yes, there undoubtedly would have been memorable candid photos had it not been for the novel coronavirus.
“I’ve wanted to make the point to my daughter that education is a key to life no matter what stage of life you’re in,” said Dr. Galgana, who asked her cousin to take the pictures.” I think I’ve still been able to do that. We’ve talked a lot about it.”
Well-aware, of course, of how COVID-19 has upended and taken lives, Dr. Galgana is by no means equating the cancellation of a graduation to the human tragedies unfolding everyday in the U.S. She’s just reflecting on what we all know -- in so many different ways, COVID is changing lives, forcing us, among other things, to forge new types of positive memories for long-held traditions.
Positivity, competence, caring, learning, teaching and hope, she says, are important parts of both her life and work. Don’t whine. If a detour is necessary, take it. But remember your mission: A purposeful happy life and providing the best available healthcare for people. “I never forget that I have the privilege to help the underprivileged...My parents taught me that.”
Dr. Galgana grew up in San Diego, the daughter of a Filipino military family that emigrated from the Philippines. A first child whose father often would be at sea for six months at a time, Dr. Galgana found herself regularly taken to the naval base urgent care by her mother. “If I had a runny nose, my mother would take me -- she wanted to do the right thing…As far as I can remember, I recall my paper medical record compilation comparable to the size of an encyclopedia…”
It was because of the medical professionals at the San Diego naval base that she knew she wanted to go into nursing.
They made her feel as though she was family. They could communicate with both parents and children. “They made people feel better by the way they talked with them, by removing anxiety with their empathy and care.” While she heard from other children they feared going to the doctor, she didn’t. “My ambition was to acclimate comfort and positiveness for children and their parents when setting foot into a healthcare setting…”
After her father retired from the Navy, Dr. Galgana, her sister and parents moved to Las Vegas. In 2009 she received a bachelor's degree in nursing from UNLV. For a couple years, she worked with the Southern Nevada Health District as lead registered nurse medical screener and vaccinator for the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic. During the next 10 years, she either worked with cardiovascular patients and infants at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center/Sunrise Children’s Hospital or with children at Sunrise Pediatrics.