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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

“It Feels Like Family”: LVN GRAD Eduardo Ellenich Wins DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Ability 

October 3, 2023

On the day he graduated from the Vocational Nursing program at San Joaquin Valley College, Eduardo Ellenich found out he was the recipient of the Student DAISY Award for “Extraordinary Nursing Students.” The DAISY Foundation honors student nurses (as well as nursing teachers, and nurses already working in the field) for their compassion and “the super-human work that nurses do for patients and families every day.”

Several had nominated him anonymously; but that was no surprise to his small class of mostly women, who had become family to him during his training. They became family while working hard together and living through some tough times to get through the program, so they insisted he mention his “sisters” in his graduation speech.

To Eduardo, family has always been important.  Adopted at the age of six with three of his siblings into a new family, moving from his birthplace in Oregon to San Diego and then to Palm Springs, Eduardo deeply understands the importance of those connections in life. Life has a way of reinforcing the things you are drawn to. For Eduardo, that is treating everyone he cares for like family.    


Congratulations on your DAISY Award! How has it impacted your life so far? 

Well, first it helped me get a good job at the Desert Oasis Healthcare in Palm Desert. I had heard that it was hard to get hired there, so I was nervous. When I mentioned The DAISY Award in my interview the interviewer changed her tune. Being a recipient of the DAISY Award, I learned about opportunities to qualify for student grants and scholarships in the future.


How did you decide to go into nursing in the first place? 

Actually, I wanted to be a firefighter. I started with EMT/fire science and I really enjoyed it. Firefighters have to be paramedic certified so that’s how it started. I was working on a degree in fire science at College of the Desert when COVID hit and they closed the program. My whole goal had been to graduate from the Fire Academy. But my girlfriend said why not apply to a nursing program until it opens up again. I’m not good in math and science, so I didn’t think it was possible to get into a nursing program. She said there are different levels; so, I applied for a Vocational Nursing program at SJVC, which was one of two schools in the valley where I lived. The other school was not as welcoming, but SJVC took me in right away.


Once you got into the Vocational Nursing program, how did it feel to be training for that? 

I knew a little bit about the things you learn in nursing school because there are a ton of similarities to some of the emergency medicine you see when becoming a firefighter. I also found I could be helpful to my classmates because I knew about emergency airways and could show the class how to use them. I realized I liked to teach and help others doing it, so I spent a lot of time in clinicals finding stuff to do to help the nurses. I was also familiar with the computer programs because I was a med tech before I started the VN program. I always liked helping out and finding stuff to do.  


What can you share about your experience at SJVC Vocational Nursing program that might help a person reading this article decide whether they are right for a nursing program? 

Being a people person has a lot to do with it. It’s best when you get to know your patients, and not just treat them like nobodies. As you work in that environment you come to realize your job is to get them in, get the treatment they need, and then to get them out as efficiently as possible. In the meantime, it’s so helpful to patients to take the time to fully answer any questions they have, to explain what’s going on. I always take time to go through everything with a patient at their discharge, so they feel confident on what to do when they’re out of the facility. A little bit of compassion goes a long way.  

Another thing I can tell them, at least for me, is that the class made the program for me. It was like family. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to make it. You turn into a little family and support each other. We went through difficult times through the program and even after, when one of the twelve who graduated suddenly passed away. Although I had been with the class fifteen months, losing that person felt like I had lost a life-long friend.  


I’m so sorry.  

Thanks. Because we all went through it together, it made my classmates more like sisters to me.  


Looking ahead, do you have any future goals at this time? Has winning the DAISY award changed your perspective on what you are going to do? 

We live in Desert Hot Springs, fifteen minutes away from the SJVC Rancho Mirage campus. I’ve decided with my fiancé who is a nurse as well that I’m going to take a break and re-apply to the Registered Nursing program at SJVC this time next year.  Since this is my first job after graduating there is still so much to learn! I’m allowed to do just about everything in the scope of an LVN at this immediate care clinic – but I want to learn it at a higher level.  



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