Auburn Family

Auburn Student Chooses Internship That Will Honor Her Brother

Auburn senior, Olivia Napolitano, has not always wanted to be in health administration. Her career path changed when she lost her brother, Nicholas Napolitano, in August of 2011. Ever since her brother’s passing, Olivia decided that she would dedicate her life and career to honoring him in some way every day. Her big chance finally arrived when she got the acceptance from Vanderbilt for her internship this summer.

When she first came to Auburn in 2011, Napolitano wanted to take after her parents in advertising and communications. She changed her major to nursing before the end of her freshmen year. Though she realized that needles and blood weren’t her passion, she liked with the idea of working within a hospital in order to help people. Now, Napolitano will be graduating with a degree in health administration from Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts. (Photo credit: Austin Northenor)

“I loved the idea of being in a hospital and being able to make a difference," said Napolitano. "I soon realized that I am too emotionally invested to be on the patient side, but I can do similar things of making a difference on the business side of healthcare."

Nicholas Napolitano passed away while trying, and succeeding, to save a friend caught in the harsh current in Brenton State Park in Newport, R.I. Nicholas left behind a legacy that has touched hundreds of people. From the day he passed, the Napolitano family and close friends have worked hard to make sure that Nicholas will never be forgotten, and they have worked just as hard to ensure that this accident never happens to anyone else.

“The most rewarding accomplishment was going to Rhode Island to see signs put in at Brenton State Park that say "NO JUMPING" and “DANGER,” said Napolitano. “It seems so simple, like it would be easy to do, but it took years of fighting Rhode Island state legislature to be able to make that happen. Now there are law enforcements that warn people of dangerous waters that know one knew about before, and if that saves just one life I will be thankful.”

After all of her hard work at Auburn University, Olivia Napolitano will set out to make a difference. In the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention department at the Monroe Carell ..., Napolitano will work everyday with coalitions to develop programs for the community to implement safety strategies for children. (Photo credit:

“Death from traumatic injury is the number one cause of death in children, so it is a huge issue that I did not even know about,” said Napolitano.

Napolitano is moving to Nashville, Tenn. in May, and she will be working to make this internship a career and this career into something that not only spreads the story of her brother, but also something that positively impacts the lives of others.
“I love children, and I love my brother and his story," said Napolitano. “If I can relate those two things in a job to help with injury prevention it would be so challenging yet rewarding.  Whether it is water safety, street safety, fire safety, or vehicle safety, I like to think that I will be continuing his legacy.”

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