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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

DAISY Award Winner Misael Ledezma: A Journey from Fields to Healing Hands

January 2, 2024

By the time Misael Ledezma made it to his mid-twenties, he knew he wanted to work helping other people. He had already worked in a variety of jobs since leaving high school early to help support his family. Pursuing a career in healthcare, particularly nursing, felt like the natural next step. First, Misael attended San Joaquin Valley College to become a Medical Assistant and then he returned to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. Most recently, he received the DAISY Award.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I was born and raised in Dinuba, California near Fresno. I come from hardworking parents. My dad came to this country from Mexico and we weren’t a wealthy family. We struggled quite a bit, but I feel like that struggle also made me who I am today. I dropped out of high school during my sophomore year and started working to help the family. I’ve worked in a lot of different jobs, like agriculture and fields, where I picked peaches and nectarines. I did landscaping, construction,  and warehouse work. Eventually, I went to Dinuba Adult School and received my high school diploma in 2018. 

When did you decide to pursue a career in nursing? 

After working in construction for a little while, I knew that I wanted to help people in some way or form. I applied at a local hospital, thinking I would try something different and see if I could get my foot in the door. I didn’t get a call back from my application initially. Maybe four or five months later–I thought it was a joke–they called me in for an interview. I applied to environmental services as a housekeeper. That job opened the door to a whole new world for me. I had the opportunity to witness what nurses do for work and see what happens in the different departments. I saw how the nurses helped the patients and how I’d enjoy doing the same work. 


What motivated you to choose SJVC? 

I had heard that it was a really good school. The number one thing that I think motivated me to go there was talking to former students who said that San Joaquin Valley College prepared them for real-world experience. They said that they graduated and felt ready and confident to enter the field. I said that’s what I wanted. I wanted the confidence that comes from knowing what you are doing. That was probably the biggest motivating factor. 


What was your favorite part of your program at SJVC? 

I feel like two parts were my favorites. I enjoyed the patient care aspect, which included bonding with the patients by listening closely and talking with them. It seemed like a lot of them didn’t feel like they were being heard. The first thing that I try to do when I walk into a patient’s room is have a conversation with them, listen closely to what they have to say, and make sure they are feeling comfortable. Interacting with the patients and helping them is my favorite part. 

My second favorite part would probably be learning about so many different subjects. It felt surreal sitting in class sometimes. I couldn’t believe that I was learning all of the different subjects and that I would be a real nurse in a clinical setting after I graduated.  


What was the most challenging part of your program? 

Aside from waking up early in the morning, I would say the most challenging part was probably adjusting to being back in school. I had been out of school for a long time. I also had to try to form good study habits and learn how to process a lot of information. The great thing is support was always there from the school when or if I needed it. I had instructors who were always just a text or phone call away. My classmates were also super supportive and helpful if I needed anything. 


What got you through the challenging times? 

The support from my class and teachers. I felt like my class was especially awesome. This meant a lot to me because I wasn’t always confident in school but they made a huge difference for me.  


Is there anyone whom you would like to acknowledge for helping you get this far? 

The person in my life who was particularly helpful to me and who I would like to give recognition to is my mom. I never would have gotten this far without her. She is my rock and my confidant. She has always motivated me to be the better version of myself that she saw in me and I never did.  


Please tell us about your current work. 

I need to finish school and pass my exams before I can start working as a LPN, so I’m currently working at a hospital in materials management. I stock up the floors with patient equipment like socks, blankets, and pillows. 


What did you enjoy most about the clinical hours during your program? 

The number one thing that always sticks out to me is communicating with the patients. I’m bilingual, so I’m able to communicate in both English and Spanish. I noticed when patients don’t know what is going on, it just creates more confusion and upset for them, which can turn into a bigger problem. The patient can feel alone and neglected. I don’t want that to happen, so I try to figure out what is going on and if they have any questions. They need to be educated on what is being done to care for them and be part of the decision-making. I’ve found that just taking the time to talk to them can make a big difference in how they feel.  


How did SJVC prepare you for your career? 

I did the Medical Assisting program before the nursing program and it taught me a lot about patient care. That was my foundation and then I added to it by continuing into nursing. 


Do you have any advice for people interested in going into your field and considering SJVC College?  

Don’t procrastinate, study as much as you can, and stay on top of your work. If you procrastinate, your workload is going to get that much bigger and more difficult to complete.  


How do you feel about receiving the DAISY Award? 

It is a lot to take in and so I am still in disbelief that I got it. I want to say thank you to whoever selected me. I feel honored and grateful.  

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