Ontario RN student discovers true passion in nursing
After opting out of a 2-year nursing program in a school that didn’t provide what she had hoped for, Jacquelin Alvarez was at a loss for her next career training and education move. “What do I do now,” she remembers thinking.
Still discouraged, Jacquelin found herself at SJVC’s Ontario campus checking out the Pharmacy Technology program. But her admissions advisor Nadia Lopez saw her true vocational spirit. “She told me, ‘I know this is not where your heart is,’” says Jacquelin. Nadia encouraged her to tour the Medical Assistant program classrooms and labs. “There was an immediate change in my demeanor, and it felt more like a natural fit for me.”
It took a while for her to accept this new career direction. “Jacquelin went through a rough time of not knowing if she selected the right career and started second-guessing herself,” says Sharon Cobb, Medical Assisting instructor. “But, she said the instructors, admissions advisors, deans and even the financial aid advisors helped her out and redirected her in continuing the program.”
Jacquelin re-focused, breezed through the Medical Assistant program and got a great job offer from her extern site. After graduation, she hit the ground running, working in a medical facility’s Urgent Care, Family Practice, Internal Medicine and Pediatric units. “It was an amazing experience, and I worked there for over two years,” says Jacquelin.
Once again, Nadia touched Jacquelin’s life. “She called and told me that a new Registered Nursing program was coming to the Ontario campus,” says Jacquelin. Nadia reminded Jacquelin that all her science units would expire in a few months, so if she ever wanted to pursue a nursing credential this was the moment to decide.
“I knew if I wanted to do it, I would have to do it now or start all over again,” says Jacquelin. “It lit a fire under me.”
Jacquelin had many good memories of being a student at SJVC. The support she received during her last program made her confident that she would have what she needed to achieve her new goals. “The only reason I went back for the nursing program is because I had such a good experience there the first time,” she offers.
To make the decision even easier, she was encouraged that her husband Josh was completely on board. The little joke between them is that Jacquelin dreams of one day owning a Maserati. “So, he says the only way I’ll ever get one is to stay focused on my career, because he won’t be able to afford one for me,” she laughs. “He says the best he can do is a Chevy!”
It hasn’t been an easy balance of work, school and life, but she and Josh made it through. “The first year was a lot of studying for tests, a lot of late nights…can’t really go out,” says Jacquelin, who was still working during that time. “Josh kept telling me, ‘You can do it.’” Josh also works in the medical field and provided financial, as well as emotional support.
Then their belts had to tighten a little more when Jacquelin had to stop working to concentrate on school. “I went from being able to buy a Michael Kors purse to looking at them from outside the store window,” she remembers. “Going out to restaurants was my big thing. Now it’s for special occasions only.”
She keeps it all in perspective. “The sacrifices we make now are to live an amazing life later.”
Jacquelin learned a lot about sacrifice, focus and goals from her parents, who came here from Mexico as a young married couple who had little but the ambition to have a good and productive life. “After working as a dishwasher and waitress in restaurants for 8 or 9 years, they opened their own restaurant,” says Jacqueline. “The way I see it, if they can do it, I can do it.”
Jacquelin is now just a month away from successful completion of the Registered Nursing program and even before she completes her studies, she is adding greater definition to her career vision.
“After doing clinical rotations and seeing that there are so many suffering from mental health issues, it made me want to get in someone’s head and help them leave with a different outlook in life,” she says. “Someone with mental health issues is not seen with the same empathy as someone with a broken leg, because the pain isn’t seen, isn’t physical. Anyone can do compressions and save a life, but it takes more to reach someone at an emotional level.”
She plans to eventually work in a psychiatric hospital or mental health facility.
Jacquelin didn’t need anyone to help her find her newest career passion. She recognized it on her own this time, and she knows very well how to get there from here.
Jacquelin’s sights are set on higher education: She wants to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, and possibly a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). She plans to start an online education program right after her July graduation. At just 25 years old, she has lots of time. But, she is not likely to take too long.
After all, somewhere out there, there is a Maserati with her name on it.
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