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From Engineering to Patient Care Technician

STC graduate celebrates first milestone into a bright nursing career

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In the very same year that South Texas College graduate Jasmin Escalona made the bold switch from civil engineering to explore a career in health care, she has accomplished her initial milestone into her newfound passion for nursing, graduating this week as a Patient Care Technician. STC image
In the very same year that South Texas College graduate Jasmin Escalona made the bold switch from civil engineering to explore a career in health care, she has accomplished her initial milestone into her newfound passion for nursing, graduating this week as a Patient Care Technician. STC image
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By Selene Rodriguez

In the very same year that South Texas College graduate Jasmin Escalona made the bold switch from civil engineering to explore a career in health care, she has accomplished her initial milestone into her newfound passion for nursing, graduating this week as a Patient Care Technician. 

“I’m amazed at how many things I have achieved in just one semester,” she said. “I’m already a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and soon will be certified as a Phlebotomist, Electrocardiography (EKG) and Patient Care Technician. It’s a huge reward for the investment.”

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Raised by a family in construction, the 19-year-old grew an interest for engineering through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) academy at Juarez-Lincoln High School, where she graduated from in 2022.

Despite getting accepted by the University of Texas at Austin, she decided to stay close to home and pursue a civil engineering degree at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

But after one year in the program, she found that her excitement and passion for the field wasn’t the same as her classmates.

“I would see my friends light up when they talked about engineering and I just didn’t feel that spark in me. I felt disconnected,” she said. “I certainly found it interesting, but that’s not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So, in May 2023, I left to look for something else.”

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Inspired by her brother, who attended STC for an associate degree in English, Escalona looked through the college’s website seeking a new interest and found the Patient Care Technician program, offered by the school’s Nursing and Allied Health Division.

“There was a time in my childhood where I wanted to be a nurse so I decided to start the one-semester program to see if health care was something I would enjoy,” she shared. “It was an amazing introduction to all the different occupations in the medical field and how they function together. Now I know nursing is where I really fit. ”

A couple weeks in, Escalona already had the opportunity to start her clinical journey by helping and caring for patients at a local nursing home and becoming a CNA.

“Most of what we learn in this program gives us a foundation on how to help patients who are struggling with daily activities,” she said. “Changing sheets, doing bed baths or helping them get clean is something that might be intimidating for some, but I find it rewarding. It helps us build that compassion needed to be a dedicated nurse.”

She explained the program is divided into minimesters – starting with the CNA certification, obtained through clinical practice at nursing homes and followed by phlebotomy and EKG classes, providing opportunities to apply their knowledge in a hospital setting.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work in different settings, it helped me discover an interest in being a neonatal or nursery nurse in the future,” she said. “With all of these certifications I can jump into my career already and start to get experience.”

Escalona’s next goal is to look for a part-time job while she attends the college’s Vocational Nursing program and plans to continue the pathway to the Associate Degree and bachelor’s degree in Nursing at STC.

“For the longest time I was scared to leave engineering, but today I’m so glad I took the risk,” she added. “I would advise other students seeking a career to look into the health care field and to not be afraid to try something new. It’s never too late to find your career path.”

STC will host its Commencement Ceremonies on Dec. 9 at the Bert Ogden. Arena at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

For more information on Patient Care Technician or other programs offered at STC’s Nursing and Allied Health Division visit nah.southtexascollege.edu or call 956-872-3100.

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