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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Student Q&A with Respiratory Therapy student Tina Mendes

October 27, 2021

Respiratory Therapy student Tina MendesIn 2020, Tina Mendes was working in hospitality, and her husband in finance; both lost their jobs when Covid hit. Soon after, they began building new careers that could survive most anything—including a pandemic. Tina decided to study respiratory therapy, and her husband, law enforcement.

Tina is now in her second term of the Respiratory Therapy program at SJVC in Ontario, California—the same program her cousin, Yama, is now completing.


What interested you in Respiratory Therapy? Were you inspired by anyone or anything?

At first, I was trying to decide between nursing or respiratory therapy programs; those made the most sense for my schedule, and because we have young kids. But I really honed in on the cardiopulmonary component of respiratory therapy—it’s more specialized, and I felt like being in a specialty would give me more of a competitive edge and more career opportunities.

My cousin, Yama, was a little ahead of me in the program, and it has been great to have him as a mentor. Now that we are back on campus in person, we see each other. He gives me a heads up on teachers, pointers on ways to succeed in each class, and study tips. He’s super smart, gets good grades, and is helping me take that same path. It’s funny because our moms (who are sisters) happen to work together, and we’re wondering if we’ll end up doing the same.


How did you find the program at SJVC? 

I found the program through my cousin, Yama. I was debating between studying at SJVC and one other program; but when I got in touch with the SJVC advisor, Mike, the process felt much more organized, and it was just a better fit for me in terms of the way the program is laid out. He was also patient as I debated between the Nursing and Respiratory Therapy programs.


What has been your favorite part of the program so far? 

I really like the hands-on aspect of it. I didn’t know I’d love the field so much, but it’s crazy, it just feels like I am supposed to do it. The teachers are amazing; I went to Cal State, Fullerton where classes were so large, but at SJVC, it’s such a small class I almost feel like I’m being tutored. The teachers know your name, your work ethic—they really get to know you. That is my favorite part—I see the same faces and we all get to know each other. 


What has been the most challenging part of the program, and how have you handled the challenge?

School has been a challenge because I have two kids—one is ten months old and one is three years old—and it’s a lot of driving for me with child care. It’s also a lot to take care of the kids, keep up with the household, study, and go to school full time. I have learned to use every free moment wisely. I wake up early, before the kids, and do most of my homework then, or during their naps. So far, I’ve maintained straight As.


Is there anything you would like to add about your experience, or anything you might tell a student who is just starting the program? 

I would say that it’s important to reach out to teachers when you’re feeling overwhelmed or not understanding the material. In my experience, they go above and beyond to help you. It may seem intimidating, but everyone there genuinely cares about your success. I have reached out many times and it really helped me.

My biggest tip would be to stay organized from the beginning and map out your entire month on a calendar because the busy and overwhelming weeks come in waves, and there are little spaces in-between that you can take advantage of to get caught up, so it does not feel as intense. Also, it really helps to form a small study group to stay on track and accountable.

Read Our Career Guide On Respiratory Therapy

Respiratory therapists care for individuals affected by respiratory diseases, like asthma and COPD, and other causes of breathing difficulties.

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