By Trevor McClain

For much of Madonna University’s history, students weren’t allowed to participate in athletics and work their way through the nursing program.

There have been a select number of Crusaders who have been able to accomplish them both; One of them is senior outfielder Amber Rafko.

“For me, I am a motivated person that prioritizes what I need to get done each week,” said Rafko. “If I waited until the last minute to study and finish an assignment I wouldn’t do as well and I would be stressed out every day.”

A typical day for Rafko is a busy one. In order to make sure that she is able to complete her clinical hours, she goes to school and softball practice during the day and gets her hours in at St Joseph Mercy Hospital, in Ann Arbor, working the night shift in the maternity ward.

“While everyone is sleeping, I am on my feet tending to mothers in labor, assisting in deliveries, circulating in C-sections, or resuscitating newborn’s once they have been born and taking their vitals,” said Rafko. “After a long night, I stumble back to my bed and sleep until 3 p.m.”

Rafko has succeeded at working a schedule that is virtually 24 hours-a-day.

“It was difficult the first time adjusting to the schedule,” said Rafko. “I had horrible headaches from staying up for 18-plus hours straight.”

While holding her 3.25 grade-point-average, she is also is a starting outfielder for the Crusaders.

“She works long hours and it very dedicated,” said Erin Mayes, junior first basemen for MU. “She is always coming into practice with a smile on her face and positive attitude.”

Rafko has to work hard making sure to fit everything in and at times going to practice right from work.

“Some days, I go 24 hours straight without sleeping because I will have practice right after I get off my shift,” said Rafko. “Those days are the worst but I just think about how much I will get to sleep all day when practice is done.”

All this hard work will go to pay off; she has the rare opportunity to work toward a job that she is extremely passionate about and playing a game that she has loved since she was a young kid.

“I love nursing and it’s all worth it,” said Rafko. “I cannot thank God enough for giving me the blessing of a beautiful life and a career I am in love with. My life is good and I can’t complain.”

Her freshman year she was selected as one of 13 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics student-athletes to participate in the Red Cross NAIA Leadership program and spent two weeks in Washington, D.C., participating in the program.

To follow Amber Rafko and the 2013 Madonna University softball team, log onto for up-to-the-date schedule, scores, stats and stories.



Refko excels on field, in classroom, at clinicals