When her nursing plans got derailed, help from people like you changed everything.

Linda Ruggiero was in nursing school when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, she almost gave up on her dream.

Linda Ruggiero and her mom. Photo courtesy of Linda Ruggiero.

Ruggiero, who was changing careers, needed her mom to help her pay for nursing school. But the diagnosis changed everything. Not only did Ruggiero have the weight of her mother being sick on her shoulders, now the aspiring nurse couldn't count on any financial support. And even though her mother got better, Ruggiero's last year of nursing school was incredibly difficult.


"It was a dark year," Ruggiero recalls. She didn't qualify for financial aid so she started taking on work outside of school. At one point, she was working five jobs at one time just to make ends meet.

"I almost had to leave," she says. "I was tired, and I had meltdowns pretty often. When my mom got sick, I felt like I really couldn't take it anymore, you know?"

But then a scholarship came along that changed her life.

Linda Ruggiero giving the convocation speech at her nursing school graduation. Photo courtesy of Lina Ruggiero.

In her last year, Ruggiero was awarded $5,000 by the The Foundation of the National Student Nurses Association (FNSNA), which is supported in part by Johnson & Johnson — a company that has a century-long commitment to helping nurses. Johnson & Johnson recognizes that front line health workers are vital to changing health and wellbeing, which includes supporting the FNSNA and the scholarships they award.

The money made it possible for Ruggiero to finish the program and do what she loves. While this was certainly great for her, Ruggiero's newly acquired certification would also make a profound difference to people in need of medical assistance and care.  

With a nurse shortage looming over the United States, Ruggiero's entry into the workforce is good for all of us. She's now one of the essential people in the medical community fighting to ensure that everyone gets proper care.

And none of this would've been possible without people like you.

That's right. You have the power to change a life. All it takes is the snap of your camera.

Photo by Kendra Kamp/Unsplash.

When you take a photo and share it through Johnson & Johnson's Donate a Photo app,  Johnson & Johnson will donate one dollar per picture to causes that make the world a better, healthier place. What's more, if you share those photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you may inspire others to get snapping and donating, too.

With nearly four million photos shared, Donate a Photo has proven to be an easy (and fun) way to both spread awareness and make meaningful change in the world.

Johnson & Johnson has always been focused on changing human health for the better. And they know that progress is faster and more efficient when we all work together.

Donate a Photo is just one of the ways that J&J is helping to make the world healthier. They also created a Global Public Health organization dedicated to causes like ending Pediatric Tuberculosis and working to eliminate HIV/AIDS as a public health threat within the next decade, just to name a few.

Now it's your turn to make a difference: It starts with capturing the people you love and ends with improving the lives of people you've never met.

Photo courtesy of Linda Ruggiero.

Because Linda Ruggiero got to stay in school, she's been able to help so many others.

Aside from earning her degree and becoming a Registered Nurse, Ruggiero's also started a program that provides hats and blankets for premature babies at a local hospital. She's been awarded a grant to perform public health research in order to teach muslim women in her community about vitamin D deficiency. And she's won awards for the outreach work she's done.

"I didn't just get money to go to school to help myself," she says. "Because I stayed, it benefited others, too."

When you "Donate a Photo" and then post your donated snaps to social media, you'll be showing people the causes you care about, and creating an altruistic ripple effect that will have an effect long after your friends and relatives have scrolled through your timeline.

It only takes a second, but when we all work together, there's no telling just how much better we can make the future.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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