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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Grad Q&A with Vocational Nursing graduate Stevie Marquez

August 15, 2023

Making the commitment to more education in order to reach your career goals is never easy. But Stevie Marquez wanted so very much to work in the medical field and there was no other way to get there – and with three daughters at home, the time was never going to be just right.

The Vocational Nursing program at SJVC’s Santa Maria campus had what she was looking for to stretch her career potential. But did she have the stamina, confidence and reach to grasp that golden ring? She was determined to find out.


When did your interest in a medical career begin?

I was 18-years old when my grandmother was battling breast cancer. When Hospice came to our home, their compassion was something I noticed immediately. They focused all their attention on her, held her hand, listened to music with her. ‘That’s the direction I want to go and the kind of nurse I want to be,’ I remember thinking.


What attracted you to a Nursing career?

I’d been a stay-at-home mom for a dozen years after working as a licensed Medical Assistant in primary care. I was going through a divorce and needed to be able to provide for my daughters. I knew that nursing was a career I could continue to grow in. My goal is to become a Registered Nurse.


How did SJVC’s Vocational Nursing program fit your long-term plan?

Community College had a six year wait list for their RN (Registered Nursing) program, so LVN (Licensed Vocational Nursing) was where I needed to be in order to get closer to that long-term goal. And as an LVN, I could get on at a hospital sooner to get health insurance for my family.

SJVC’s Vocational Nursing program did not have a waitlist. God opened the door for me to go through and I knew, absolutely, this was exactly where I was supposed to be.


What was the hardest part of being a student again?

It was definitely my struggle with confidence. I lacked a lot of it. I was very fearful of failing. I told myself that I was capable, that if I worked hard and studied, I could do this. There was just some retraining and believing in myself that I needed.


What kind of support did you find at school?

From the get-go the instructors I had were exceptional. If I didn’t understand something or struggled with my confidence and started to feel down on myself, they would tell me to have faith, to believe in myself; and they helped me remember that. We still have group chats (post-graduation).


What was one of the best things about the program?

The instructors had all (previously worked) in this field, so they knew what they were talking about; it wasn’t just textbook information. They had worked in specialties like Medical/Surgical, Emergency Room, Labor and Delivery – this information is what they do, not what they’ve just read about. We could see their patient care interaction, like when they start an IV, putting a folded towel under the patient’s arm for comfort and talking calmly with patients when they insert a catheter. They shared their own experiences with us every day.


What is one of your favorite student moments?

In one of our class’s first rotations in a care facility (on-the-job experience in a medical facility) our instructor asked the nurse instructing us if she could see any of us students working on her team. She pointed me out. I’d only been in the program for three months, and she saw potential in me that I’d hoped was there.

I also got an award that day; a ‘Nurse in-progress’ pin.


What was your ‘clinicals’ (on-the-job) experience like?

My instructor knew my passion was working in a Hospice environment, and she placed me there. Sharing the ending of life experience was so rewarding. The patients I got to be with were ready to go. They were more worried about their loved ones than struggling with fear of death. We’re there, not just for patients, but for family as well.


What were the hardships and sacrifices you made to be in the Vocational Nursing program?

Finances. I sectioned off half of my house for a rental. It took about a month of remodeling, but I was better able to pay for my mortgage, food, and utilities.

It was also a message for my daughters: Life can knock you down, but you can get back up. And if it’s something you truly want, you’ll find a way to do it. I wanted to show them that I am capable, can work hard and am doing this for them.


Did you have the family support you needed?

I have the most amazing support system. My fiancé, Stephen, is my biggest cheerleader. He encouraged me, helped cook dinner for me and the girls when I got home from school and knew when I just needed a minute to chill out. He would bring me coffee to school, send me text messages before a test and sometimes call me to pray together. He would tell me, ‘You’re made for this.”

I have parents – two ‘Dads; I’m not a step-kid, so I don’t have a step-dad – and plenty of brothers and sisters who were all there for me. My brothers bought me a laptop and helped me out financially.


Who in your family do you emulate?

My mom, Theresa, had the four of us and worked 2-3 jobs at a time. But she got us into softball and was at every game. She wanted to be a truck driver and went to school to do that.


Where did you land after graduation a year ago?

I’m a LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) in Labor and Delivery at Marian Regional Medical Center. I love my job! I set up sterile field of instruments and pass them to the surgeon (during c-sections). I also assist with vaginal deliveries: make sure uterus is in appropriate location, assess bleeding, take vitals to test patient stability and work with newborns. I take infant vital signs, administer vaccinations and provide other checks right in the delivery room. In Labor and Delivery, it’s the beginning of life. I witness that beginning and see the love in a mother’s eyes, father’s eyes.  It is amazing.

I help with breastfeeding instruction and showing new dads how to hold their baby; that’s my day-to-day.


What do you envision for your future?

I will continue to get more experience until I get into an RN program. As a Registered Nurse, I can do so much more in patient care.

I love going to work. This is still the place I want to be, my dream.


What advice to you give to others who are intimidated at the thought of school?

When I saw SJVC’s ad ‘Check this box for more information’, I thought, ‘Let me see what this is.’ When they called me, I thought, ‘Oh, this is real.’ And it was; a real possibility for me.

The time is never the ‘right time’. But life could be over tomorrow. If it’s your dream, your passion, do something that is going to open that door. Check that box.

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