Off the beaten path to nursing

Ravilynne Cantos Sanga

By Cristina DC Pastor

One need not go through hoops to become a nurse. Ravilynne Sanga shows one can be an RN on her own terms. No need to take up math and arts subjects and be waitlisted to get into the highly competitive program.

The Jersey City-born Rave began with a three-month course to become a certified nursing assistant or CNA. In 2003, she received her CNA certificate from the Manhattan Institute, at the cost of about $2,000.

She worked for an upscale nursing home in Oakland, New Jersey, home to the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” She was working in this care facility for a year and a half when she decided to enroll in the Ho-Ho-Kus District School to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). She was finished in one year with tuition hovering around $24,000 in 2005.

“It was near so I could work and go to school at the same time,” she said.

With husband Badong Sanga

Rave got married after graduating from her LPN course. She wed Leopoldo Sanga, now a senior claims technical adjuster with All-State. The couple owns a home in Jersey City.

She decided to pursue further studies to become a registered nurse (RN). She decided to do online classes at the College Network. After 14 months, she went to a testing center in Albany to get her license.

“I tested out of my clinical class, which means I showed them my work experience. I didn’t have to go intern at a clinical setting,” Rave explained. “I’m an RN now.”

Rave’s story isn’t complete without mention of her bout with leukemia. She was diagnosed with APL leukemia in 1999. She said acute promyelocytic leukemia is a type of leukemia that is often curable. For two years she was in and out of Sloan-Kettering Hospital for treatment. Once cleared of cancer, Rave took up hotel and restaurant management to take a break from nursing studies and to satisfy her love of cooking.

By 2009, she was both an RN and a caterer. Rave is now working as a private nurse to an elderly Jewish woman. She comes to the woman’s home five times a week to monitor her patient’s blood and sugar levels and take her to her doctor’s appointments. Occasionally she cooks Filipino food, which the woman enjoys.

“She just wanted companionship and does not want to bother her children,” she said.

Rave can easily find employment in a hospital, but she prefers the nursing home environment where care is more personalized and “intimate.”

“Hospital (work) is so fast-paced,” she said. “At nursing homes, I have more of a connection with my patients. Their families don’t even visit them. They are really the forgotten ones.”

With private care, she gets to know her patients better, and there is enough time to pursue her start-up catering business.

The catering business is taking off, thanks to online orders via her All Dee Rave Facebook page. “It is booming and blooming,” Rave said breaking into infectious laughter.

All Dee Rave is known for its Filipino, American, Italian and Japanese dishes – the ‘ensaymada’ and firecracker salmon its bestsellers.

As a nurse, Rave honors her mother Virginia, who was a nurse for 32 years at the Jersey City Medical Center. As a caterer, she pays tribute to her father Ramon Cantos, who was a cook and in charge of all food supplies at the Coast Guard detachment in New York.

“My heart’s in both places,” she beamed.


Lumpia Shanghai and firecracker salmon


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    An inspiring story about a Filipino nurse and a caterer.

  2. Jasmin wrote:

    Very admirable achievements in pursuing her passion. She is a very good caterer.

  3. N. Mogle wrote:

    If there’s one thing you learned in nursing school, it’s that there is no end to the different types of jobs a nurse can hold.

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