You Should Know…Rivka Schellemberg

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Nursing students have a heavy workload, as any college student trying to organize a night out with her friends can tell you. Just imagine, then, throwing a pandemic into the mix.

Rivka Schellemberg grew up in Los Angeles. She completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Touro College and is now obtaining a master’s degree in nursing from Johns Hopkins University.


She volunteers for the Jewish Caring Network, the chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, and Bikur Cholim in L.A. and Baltimore.

Schellemberg by Curtis Dahl
Schellemberg by Curtis Dahl

What is it like to be a nursing student right now?

It has been interesting and a bit challenging to transition to online school. I personally prefer to learn in person and find it a bit difficult to sit online for several hours. A typical day consists of several hours of class via Zoom followed by several hours of work and studying. All of our assignments and exams were transitioned to an online format, including group projects. We also received lectures and attended webinars about the pandemic.

Are you able to help out with the pandemic response?

I wish I already completed my studies so that I could be working. For me, personally, it’s a bit of a frustrating feeling that I have all these clinical skills and that the health care workers are overburdened and we are limited and how we can help.

Student groups have been volunteering, whether it be screening and triaging calls or making masks. I applied to two programs to be on an emergency call list and serve as a nurse assistant if need be. I have also been providing education to friends and family alike about necessary precautions and the importance of proper hand hygiene and social distancing.

Tell us about your work with Baltimore Neighbors Network.

At Hopkins, there is a public health clinical. Due to COVID-19, we had to transition our clinical to an online format. Some of our incredible public health instructors arranged with [Baltimore City] Councilman Zeke Cohen for my cohort to join BNN. Personally, I did not know about the network before. Our school introduced us to BNN and arranged training. We immediately began making calls [to check in on the elderly].

I really enjoy being able to provide a few minutes of my time to have a conversation with members of the elderly population in Baltimore. Many of the individuals expressed they are very lonely and greatly appreciate the call.

The main goal of BNN is to ensure they have their necessary resources during these trying times. I have been able to provide resources to some of the elderly, which felt rewarding that I was able to accomplish something from my home.

BNN is a great way to get involved. It does not require much time or effort, and it is rewarding.

What does your Jewish identity mean to you?

Jewish identity is my everything. I am proud to be one of the few Orthodox Jews at Hopkins school of nursing. It allows me the opportunity to sanctify God.

I wear long sleeves under my scrubs and a skirt and never received any remarks about my “uniform.” Classmates have been happy to meet at different times than anticipated to ensure it works for me.

If one is true to who they are and what they value, others will respect them for it. I am proud to be different.

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