About Cherifa Chekaraou

In high school, Cherifa Chekaraou thought she wanted to become a doctor. When she had the opportunity to shadow a doctor, she noticed the nurses spent more time with patients. 

That appealed to her, so she entered Russell Sage College as a Nursing major. 

Cherifa spent her first two years at Sage taking general education courses and Nursing program prerequisites, like Anatomy and Physiology and Microbiology. 

A&P has a reputation for being challenging, but Cherifa said Professor Mary Rea made it fun.

And Microbiology with Instructor John Tine was “the hardest course I’ve taken so far,” but also one of her favorites.

Cherifa will start her nursing coursework this fall, and is confident she’ll find the same engaging classes and supportive resources.

“They keep warning us about Pharmacology,” she said of a class coming up in the spring, “but CSTEP has tutoring for that.” 

CSTEP — short for Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program — is a program sponsored by the New York State Department of Education that provides research experiences, prep for the NCLEX nursing licensing exam and similar exams, and other support to underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students in science majors or professional programs.

Cherifa listed the benefits that she has received as part of CSTEP, including tutoring, a nursing uniform for clinicals, and a stipend for her work with Assistant Professor Trudy Hutchinson and Nursing Chairperson Glenda Kelman, to collect oral histories from Sage Nursing graduates. 

The oral histories will inform a book that the professors are writing to mark the centennial of Sage’s Nursing program. 

“I’ve learned there are many different aspects of nursing you can do. You don’t always have to be at the bedside,” she said. “Nurses are doing research and I didn’t know that. Now, I’d like to go the research route.”

While Cherifa commutes from her home in Colonie, she’s made friends among resident students and enjoys activities on both Sage campuses: Honors Programs’s movie nights in Troy, student wellness events in Albany, and, especially, Albany’s Opalka Gallery. 

“I do go to the Opalka Gallery a lot,” she said, noting that during its exhibition of “Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of the Black and Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art,” she took pictures of everything. “I love it.” 


“I’ve learned there are many different aspects of nursing you can do. Nurses are doing research ... I’d like to go the research route.”

Cherifa Chekaraou