maureen chand kotecki nurse anesthetist uc irvine school of nursing alumni

UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing alum Maureen Chand Kotecki is the first recipient of the Elizabeth C. Tierney Award.

As the first recipient of the Elizabeth C. Tierney Award, Maureen Chand Kotecki knows how valuable financial support can be for students, who are especially vulnerable to rising food, fuel and housing costs.

In recognition of those challenges, the certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) and nursing alum is paying forward the support she received as a scholarship recipient.

“I want to help a student from my program at UCI. I feel that this will help them achieve their goal of becoming a nurse with one less stressor: finances.”

Awareness of CRNAs needed

Kotecki, a native of the Fiji Islands, recalls her own financial challenges while attending nursing school after having to quit her job to focus on her studies.

“With my whole family being in Fiji and me being in the USA, I felt the struggle,” she says. “The Tierney Scholarship helped me at a difficult time. It is my goal to help future nurses in a similar manner.”

Kotecki, who graduated in 2010 as part of the second class of the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, has another goal with the Maureen Chand Kotecki and Family Scholarship: to raise awareness of CRNAs so other nurses can experience the joy she does in her position.

“I am amazed as to how many nursing students and registered nurses are unaware of this profession.”

Making a career switch

After graduating with her second bachelor’s degree — her first was from UCI in biology — Kotecki was enjoying her job as an neuro intensive care unit nurse at UCI Medical Center.

“It was a steep learning curve, but I felt our program prepared me for the challenge,” she remembers. “The nurse educators and nurse mentors at the medical center were phenomenal.”

Four years later, she was ready to further her nursing education.

That’s when her husband, Robert, introduced her to the possibility of becoming a CRNA. With his encouragement, she enrolled in a program.

“I knew Maureen would make an excellent CRNA because she is extremely detail-oriented and exceptionally responsible,” says her husband Robert Kotecki, who is a nursing director at a regional hospital.

“She takes care of her patients first and foremost. It’s been an ideal career for her.”

Kotecki says her husband was spot-on.

“I love everything about being a nurse anesthetist.  You have to really be on your toes and think quickly.”

Earning trust and confidence

What’s most meaningful to her as a CRNA, though, is the gift of her patients’ trust and confidence during a vulnerable time.

“It’s very much nursing and caretaking for someone while they are under anesthesia. They have to give me their full trust, and I love giving people assurance that I’m there for them as they have their nice nap.”

Kotecki is also proud of and grateful for the education she received at the school, which she says prepared her for a rewarding and challenging career.

“I have been a nurse for 12 years and don’t regret my decision at all. I feel very proud to be a nurse who received her education from the UCI School of Nursing and who gained her first years of nursing experience at UCI Medical Center.”

Elizabeth Tierney remembers well meeting Kotecki at the time of her award and recalls a person with big aspirations. “Her plans were impressive. I am eager to know her career path and I wish her well.”

Support the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing: For more information, to support a future nurse or nurse-led research, please connect to Juliana Goswick, Director of Development at