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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Kayleen Pilimai on Being a Wife, Mother and RT Student

July 26, 2011

SJVC Respiratory Therapist Student Kayleen PilimaiKayleen Pilimai, a Rancho Cordova Respiratory Therapy student, has been in her program almost exactly a year now. As part of the 18-month program, reaching the year mark feels pretty good. In her words, “Everything’s just coming down and coming together – it’s exciting and a little scary.”

Our one-man SJVC spotlight team zeroed in on Kayleen this week to find out what life is like as a wife, returning student, mother of two and balancing act extraordinaire.

What was it like to come back to school?

It was hard to transition but because I knew I was serious about it this time it was easier for me to do better and try harder.

Why did you choose respiratory therapy?

Originally when I was going to school I was going really slow because I started having kids. So I finished all my pre-req’s to go into nursing and I waited to get into the nursing program – but then I couldn’t get in and there was a two year waiting list so I just decided to look into other options. I have a friend who’s in Respiratory Therapy and he suggested SJVC and I looked it up and I decided to try it out.

Do you have a specific plan of where you want to be after graduation?

Hopefully I get a job right away. I want to get a good years’ experience and I think I want to work in the neonatal pediatric field and then get my experience there for a couple years and definitely want to continue my education and get my bachelor’s but that’s like in the next 3 to 5 years.

What led you toward neonatal?

I’ve always liked kids since I was younger. I have two little kids of my own and I enjoy it. I think it will make me feel good helping little kids if I can. I want to get my foot in the door and see how I like it, if I can handle it and then if not I’ll just stick to adults.

What has been your biggest struggle in coming back to school? And how have you had to work to overcome it?

The biggest struggle is just trying to balance it out and find time to study for myself. I would just say that and having a personal, family life has been a struggle. I had more time before and now I don’t have that much time. So you know trying to balance everything out is, in general, a struggle. But I’ve handled it and I’m doing it now My family understands now, and they know I’m doing it for us.

Tell me about your family. Husband, two kids. What are your kids’ names?

My four year old, her name is Malia, she’s a girl. And then I have a one year old boy who I had probably 10 months before I started the program – so that in itself starting out was a huge challenge because I have to keep my eye on him 24/7. But he’s getting easier. He’s almost two. Then my husband does loans, so he’s supporting all of us and he’s working his butt off so that I can go to school. And when I’m done I’m planning to work my butt off too!

Do you have any encouragement for other people with a family who want to go back to school?

The only thing is it requires a lot of dedication. And I was ready for it, so if people feel like they’re ready to do it then they should. I definitely recommend it. I was fortunate enough to; my husband said I could quit working. I know there are people that are still working and have kids and they’re trying to do it too, so if you want to do it I would say go ahead and do it. Try and get as much help as you can and get as much financial aid as you can.

One more question – if you had to go live in another country for a year, just you not your family, which country would you choose?<

I would probably just go to the Philippines where I’m from, because I’m very Americanized so I don’t know a lot about my own culture. I’ve only been there once in my life and that was like when I was 23. I was born there and came here when I was one so I’d definitely go there just to gain some knowledge about my culture.

Do you have anything left to add that I did not ask you about?

The best part about this program is the clinicals I think. Being in the clinicals and being in the field, hands on, that’s where I’ve learned the most. And you know for me it’s been the most fun because we get to actually see patients. We get to do what we’re going to do and get some experience there.

After graduation, Kayleen and her husband are planning to take a trip they won to Hawaii. An appropriate reward for all their hard work? We (I) think so. Way to go, Kayleen!

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