In February, the Philadelphia Phillies announced a contest to feature the pandemic’s frontline heroes. 41 people were picked to be on banners lining the stadium, while others were given opportunities to dance with the Phanatic for the Frontline Hero Dance. CCPO Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Jennifer Rampolla, was picked to dance to “Uptown Girl” in front of the entire stadium. While the dance is a fun way to honor nurses like Rampolla, it also raises awareness and educates others on the many types of frontline jobs there are during the pandemic.

You can check out Rampolla’s moves below!

Following the big dance, we asked Rampolla to share her experience and talk about what it means to her to help others during this time.

Q: What do you do for your full-time career?

Jennifer Rampolla (JR): I am a full time school nurse at Woodlynne School and have been there since 2006. Woodlynne is small town with one school, Pre-K through 8th grade. I love my Woodlynne kids and I love going to work there each day. I am a mom first, then a nurse! I remember in all situations, at school or with SANE work, to treat each person I encounter with the love and respect that I would want my own children treated with! I follow this motto in everything I do in life!

Q: How did you learn about becoming a SANE and what made you do it?

JR: As a nurse, I am always looking to expand my nursing knowledge and learn new things. One day I saw an advertisement about needing SANE nurses in Camden County. I did some research and really liked the opportunity that might be available, so I applied. I met with Theresa McLaughlin, our SANE coordinator, and I left my interview knowing that this was something that I wanted to pursue.

Q: What is something you’d like people to know now that Sexual Assault Awareness Month just passed in April?

JR: I am honored and privileged to work alongside a great group of SANE nurses in Camden County and I could not ask for a more supportive leader in Theresa, the program’s coordinator. I would like everyone to know that if you are sexually assaulted, you do not have to go through your experience alone.  We are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to the hospital to help. I want anyone who might be a victim to know that sexual assault is never your fault! I want any victim to know that our exam does not hurt in any way and you, the victim, have all the power during the exam. As a SANE nurse I will listen, I will explain, I will help, but at no time will I judge you for anything. Please don’t go through sexual assault alone, SANE nurses are always available to talk to.

Q: How did you learn you were nominated for the Hometown Hero award?

JR: All Philly sports are always on in my home. I have four boys and a husband who love everything sports. I knew about the contest that the Phillies were having just by watching the games with my family. As we were watching one of the games, the advertisement came on about the deadline for the nomination video. My oldest son, Austin, then told me he had nominated me as a hometown hero!

Q: This question is for Austin! Why did you take that step to nominate your mom?

Austin Rampolla: I went out of my way to nominate my mom for this award because there is no one more deserving. Along with keeping her students and staff safe, healthy, and in the classroom, she kept her family safe during this entire pandemic. She is constantly working to keep everyone around her safe and healthy and has absolutely accomplished that goal. Thank you Mom!

Q: Jennifer, what did it mean to you to be nominated?

JR: I definitely don’t like to be the center of attention or in any spotlight, so I really was so nervous in knowing that I was nominated. That being said, I was definitely very humbled and proud of the son I raised to know that he looks at me as a deserving “hero”. My greatest accomplishment in life is being a mom to four stellar young men that I know my husband and I have raised to go out into the world to be “heroes” in their own way!

Q: If you had to nominate your own hero, who would that be and why?

JR: To me, a “hero” is someone who is brave, has great strength and courage, and is able to overcome their own fears. Everyone is or can be “hero”. I encounter heroes every day; I am surrounded by heroes. One very special hero to me is my father, who is no longer here on Earth, but is with me each day as my guardian angel. My dad got sick when I was young and so many times the doctor’s would give him a poor prognosis, but he never stopped fighting. He was the strongest and bravest man I knew and he taught me so much. I am the person I am today because of him. I am a nurse because of him.

Q: What has it been like being a nurse during this last year?

JR: Being a nurse during this past year has been tough. It was scary because of the unknown in the beginning, but it’s even scarier for the patients. Being sick or experiencing trauma is bad enough, now with COVID some of our patients need to go through this without anyone by their side other than a “stranger” trying to give care. This anxiety is difficult for everyone, but as a nurse I want everyone to know that we are here to help you now and always.

Q: What is the most rewarding part about your job?

JR: The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I made a difference with every patient that I encounter. Each situation and each person is unique, but as a nurse, there is always a way to connect with a person. As an ER nurse especially, I learned that not every outcome is always positive, so nursing can and has been difficult at times. Perhaps I look at the bright side of everything, but in each person I have encountered along my nursing career, knowing I treated each person how I would want any member of my family treated is how I get through the good and bad times.  The most rewarding part of my job comes from me just being able to offer care and help to anyone. I love being a nurse. As a SANE nurse, I love that I get to spend more time with one patient and offer individualized care. SANE nursing is so different than most other nursing specialties I have encountered.  I tell my SANE victims that they hold the power of how the exam proceeds and there is no right or wrong way.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about you?

JR: I graduated from Villanova University. I am married to a wonderful husband, Carmine, for 21 years. We have four beautiful boys – Austin who is 21-years-old, Anthony, who is 19-years-old, Aaron, who is 17-years-old, and Asch, who is 7-years-old. I love to cook and bake. We enjoy our time at the campground, at the baseball fields, and we love watching all Philadelphia sports! I love all holidays, but my favorite is Christmas. I have a big cookie exchange and start baking new “test” cookies in October, so I think this is probably Carmine and the boys’ favorite time of year as well! Our house is loud and crazy at times, but I would not have it any other way!