Having survived open heart surgery at age 21 to correct a birth defect which had gone undetected her entire life, William Paterson University alumna Briana Valente ’20 chose to become a role model and mentor for other cardiac patients.
Valente, who earned her bachelor’s degree in public health from William Paterson, completed a spring internship with the American Heart Association (AHA), where she connected with the North Jersey team and was selected as a Survivor Ambassador.
“I speak passionately on this topic because I am not the stereotypical cardiac patient,” says Valente. “People need to be aware that heart disease can affect anyone and everyone.” In 2017, she underwent open heart surgery just a few months after finding out that an undetected birth defect was progressing to damage her heart.
Valente shared her story of survival at the Virtual 2020 Northern NJ Go Red for Women Luncheon. She stressed the importance of research for heart disease and stroke for women, who often experience different signs and symptoms than men.
As a Survivor Ambassador, Valente serves on a panel with other survivors, participates in outreach groups, and is a resource for information on social media platforms with the AHA.
Valente looks forward to a career in a hospital setting where she can interact with patients. She plans to pursue a bachelor of nursing degree with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner with a public health background.
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