For a Seabrook Beach woman, success isn’t determined by a fancy job title or the amount of money in your bank account.
“How you measure success is how your kids describe you when they talk to a friend,” Lucy Mistrella Milton said.
In that case, Milton’s about as wealthy as a person can be. This spring, her three adult children nominated her for Northern Essex Community College’s 50th anniversary “Make a Difference” award.
Impressed with what they read, the college’s selection committee chose Milton among hundreds of nominees from throughout the Merrimack Valley to be one of the 50 award recipients. Milton was in rarefied company when she received her award on April 30 alongside entrepreneurs, philanthropists and even a best-selling author.
“In addition to being a mentor and leader at the hospitals where she works,” wrote her oldest daughter Katharine, “our mom also uses her nursing degree to serve the global community. Each year she travels with a group of volunteer medical staff to a developing country to be a part of a team that performs plastic surgery on children with cleft lips and palates and burns. (She) uses her vacation time to work harder than she ever works.”
The work is exhausting, Milton said, it’s heartbreaking and taxing financially, physically and emotionally. But it’s clear she won’t be giving up those missions any time soon.
“I was so upset that I couldn’t go in April because I was sick,” Milton said. “But the Medical Mission Group will have another trip this fall and I’ll be going.”
Milton’s determination is an example of how she’s lived her life since she entered the nursing program at Northern Essex in Haverhill after getting her diploma in 1970 from St. Mary’s High School in Lawrence. Graduating two years later with an associate degree, the Lawrence native passed the state nursing board exam, became a registered nurse and spent the majority of her career at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen.