Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.
Infusion Nurse in Outpatient Oncology at Oregon Health and Science University“Adelphi made me who I am today.”
An infusion nurse in outpatient oncology at Oregon Health and Science University, Vida (Manavizadeh) Erdman ’04 said her work continues to teach her more about humanity. “In oncology, a patient is experiencing a life shifting event. You get cancer and everything that’s not important melts away and everything that is sticks. It’s beautiful to be a part of someone’s experience in that moment, in that time. Oncology patients are often appreciative and curious and eager to share with you. They look at every day as a gift, and most people don’t live their lives that way.”
The relationships that are formed between nurse and patient continue to be her favorite part of her job. “In my current role I give patients their first infusions. Sometimes they are scared when they come in for chemotherapy,” she said. “I can prepare them for how they will feel and explain what I’m going to do as I do it. I get to create a bond with them.”
While nursing is a perfect fit for Erdman, her path to find her niche was anything but direct. She began her college career at Penn State. “It was a big school and I felt anonymous.” After visiting her friend who was studying at Adelphi, she knew she wanted to transfer. “My friend knew all of her professors. She was having a great experience at Adelphi, one that I wished I was having.”
After applying to the University, she was offered a scholarship, and accepted into the Honors College. “The philosophical basis and critical thinking in the Honors College was out of this world,” said Erdman, who took advantage of learning opportunities Adelphi had to offer in and out of the classroom. “Writing critical thinking papers, participating in the Model United Nations, talking about books in Dean Garner’s Reading Circle—I was transformed by that. I’m still transformed by that,” she said. “Adelphi made me who I am today.”
She was grateful for the experiences she had on campus and abroad during her undergraduate years. A political science major and French minor, she studied in France for a semester. “I always knew I wanted to study abroad,” she said. “For me, it was one of the biggest opportunities in going to college.” She did a home stay in Rennes in Northern France to immerse herself in the culture and language. In addition to taking her own classes, she taught elementary students English in a French school.
By the end of her senior year at Adelphi, she followed the recommendation of Adelphi Professor Katie Laatikainen and applied to the Peace Corps. The September after graduating from Adelphi, she headed to Eastern Europe.
“It was a life changing experience,” said Edrman of the time she spent in Ukraine teaching students in sixth through eleventh grades. “I was in a poor village, teaching in the one school there, surrounded by many people who didn’t see the point of education. It was a difficult experience, but it was a beautiful experience. I really connected with some of the students and was able to serve as a role model for quite a few young girls who didn’t have role models otherwise.”
After returning home from Ukraine, she moved to Portland, Oregon for what she thought would be just a couple of years in a new city following her Peace Corps experience. She worked in social services with risk and homeless youth through Job Corps, a federal education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job.
It was during this time that she decided she wanted to become a nurse and enrolled in Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). “I saw some parallels in the education I received at Adelphi and the one I got at OHSU. It was about more than just learning a task—it was also about professional practice and deepening the understanding of the human experience.”
After receiving her degree, she began her career in nursing working as a medical surgical staff nurse on the oncology floor at Oregon Health and Science University, before joining the outpatient oncology clinic as the care coordinator, and then securing her current role as an infusion nurse in outpatient oncology.
In her free time, Erdman and her husband enjoy giving back to their community. The last couple of years they have gotten involved with the REACH Paint & Repair-a-thon, in which volunteers help senior and disabled neighbors throughout the Portland metropolitan area who are in need by repairing their homes. “You’re tired at the end of the day, but when you look and see you have helped completely transform a house? That’s pretty cool,” she said. “Volunteering always feels good.”
The Erdmans are also involved with refugee resettlement services through Catholic Charities, working to help refugees adjust to their new homes in Portland. Most recently, they worked with a family from Bhutan. “This is an opportunity to learn about different cultures while also helping people in your community,” she said.