How Gina got to this point is quite inspiring. In 1999, Gina’s father was very ill and, therefore, was placed on hospice. His home health registered nurse (RN) used to come to the house quite often. On one particular day, the RN asked who had packed his wound. Gina did not want to speak up at first because she assumed she had done it wrong and was embarrassed. It turned out Gina had done it perfectly and the RN was very impressed. She taught Gina how to reposition it every two hours and even encouraged her to go to nursing school. At first Gina told herself no. She was a single mom, working a warehouse job for $9 an hour. “I would work overtime and just make it. I was broke.” She needed to focus on working to take care of her children, not her education. Also, although Gina believed her children to be intelligent and gifted, she did not have the same confidence in herself. But with the support of her family and the memories of her father’s nurse, about four years later, Gina enrolled at Summit College. Unfortunately, Gina’s father did pass away that year in 1999 from lung cancer, but he continues to be an inspiration and motivation for Gina to help other people. She continues to provide care and support to those who need it, just as he did.
Support from the people in her life is what has made Gina so successful. Her sister and brother-in-law actually paid for Gina to not work so she could go to LVN school. This way she could focus on her education and truly succeed. Another layer of invaluable support was Gina’s teachers and her tutor. “The teachers are the root of my success. I told myself no, that you have to be smart to do this. Well, I had to get tutoring, but I passed.” Every Thursday, Gina would meet one-on-one with her tutor and receive personalized help and attention. If Gina was late to school from dropping off her kids, the teachers would help her out. She learned so much from her courses, but she also learned how to manage her money, how to manage her time, and how to be professional because of Summit. Gina spoke of a specific time when she wanted to wear her fake nails to school, which is not allowed in any nursing program. They sent her home, and she ended up missing a test. It was instances such as these that built character. “The teachers were amazing. I got all the support I ever needed.”
Looking to the future, Gina does plan on continuing further to become a registered nurse. She is done with her RN prerequisites and has been accepted into a program. She also completed her IV certification through Summit. But for right now, she is traveling to Northern California, near Sacramento, for a 13-week traveling nurse position. A friend of hers who also graduated from Summit has already been there for about six months now. Gina is excited because it is a retired population, which she loves working with, and the position takes care of a rental car and her accommodations and pays well, too.
Reflecting on her journey, Gina cannot contain her enthusiasm. “My life was good, but now it’s just better. I have lifetime friends; I’ve learned so much from that place. I thought I was going to dread school because I had a rough time, but I didn’t feel like it was a bad thing. I can’t explain it. It’s an unexplainable feeling. It changed my whole life.” This part of her life started all those years ago when she had no experience, but someone told her she could do something – her father’s nurse. “Now I have my own name, not just ‘Mom.’ My own title.” When asked what advice she would give to other students so they too can succeed just as she has, she deferred to one of her professors. “One of my teachers said to always do the right thing even when no one is looking. And that’s exactly what I do.”