Nursing Grad’s Childhood Dream Comes True

Stephanie Perez

Mega Doctor NEWS

By Amanda Sotelo

Stephanie Perez grew up admiring the work several of her cousins did as nurses. She promised herself that she would be a nurse when she grew up. In summer 2019, her dream finally became a reality; she graduated from Texas State Technical College.

The 28-year-old mother of two earned her associate degree in nursing last month to become a registered nurse. She had earned a certificate in vocational nursing in fall2017.

“I’m so happy to be in a profession where I get to help others while doing what I love,” she said. “This was a trying, yet exciting time for me and my family, but here I am, with a dream come true.”

As a child, she enjoyed listening to her cousins’ conversations about helping newborn babies and their mothers or about saving a life. Although they were her inspiration, it wasn’t until her daughter was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that her heart’s desire grew tenfold for nursing.

Perez’s youngest daughter was born with gastroschisis, a birth defect of the abdominal wall in which the baby’s intestines are found outside of the body.

“Although it was seven years ago, I still remember how those NICU nurses made me feel,” said the Harlingen native. “They kept me calm and well informed in one of the scariest moments a mother could experience. They are also a big part in why I chose nursing as a career.”

She said her daughter is now healthy and thriving and comments often on how she wants to be a nurse too. Her sister shares the same sentiment.

“My daughters are watching everything I do, so no matter how hard both programs got, I could not give up,” said Perez. “I did this for them, to give us a better life and they tell me often how proud they are of me and how they want to be smart like me. That alone, makes everything worth it.”

Perez said the program was intense and challenged her often. But from the top-notch nursing skills she learned and hands-on training received to the clinical rotations, she said it all prepared her for a successful career in a field where she holds others’lives in her hands.

“The program is intense for a reason. As a nurse, you hold a lot of responsibility. I understand that, but what made it harder for me was my ‘mom’ guilt,” she said. “I missed school assemblies, programs, birthday parties, and sleepovers. It was heartbreaking.” But it was a heartbreak that she said her instructors helped her through.

“It was honestly the instructors that made this program worthwhile,” she said. “They go above and beyond what an instructor has to do. They treated us like sons and daughters. They were a shoulder to cry on and motivators. That is what helps us succeed.”

Perez not only graduated from both programs with honors,but as valedictorian, making her the top student in her class.

And upon passing her National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in the next few weeks, she will begin working at the oncology department at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.