By Selene Rodriguez
From a life-changing move to nearly losing a brother to a brain tumor, siblings Christian and Andres Garcia had a unique path to the profession of nursing, starting with the bold decision to switch careers and pursue a degree together at South Texas College.
“It has been quite a journey,” said Christian, 27. “Exactly two years ago we were walking the stage together with our associate degree in nursing and today, here we are again for a bachelor’s degree. This accomplishment has been five years in the making and we could not be more grateful to have found an affordable and a quality education at STC.”
The Garcia siblings recently celebrated their graduation, earning bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, alongside their brother Julio, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technologies.
Born in California, they grew up in a family of eight, moving to the Rio Grande Valley in late 2016 when their father was offered a job promotion.
“Back then I was 16 and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” shared Andres, 24. “After high school, I spent a year studying electrical engineering at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), before even considering nursing.”
Similarly, Christian invested a year pursuing a degree in education in California, but moving to the RGV changed everything.
“I’ve always been interested in teaching, but being here led us to reconsider and switch to nursing due to the job security it offers and how rewarding it is,” he explained. “Our mom, being a licensed vocational nurse, played a role too, but most significantly, it was the impactful experience we had with our oldest brother that influenced us the most.”
He recounted the day their oldest brother, Humberto, unexpectedly fell seriously ill and experienced multiple seizures on the way to the emergency room.
“We later found out he had a brain tumor. He went into an induced coma and later transferred to San Antonio for surgery,” he shared. “That’s another reason why we’re so grateful to have moved here; they saved his life. Today, he’s thankfully doing great; able-bodied, medicated, but most importantly, alive.”
Having spent two months in and out of Mission Regional Hospital inspired both siblings to pursue a nursing career, witnessing the difference nurses can make.
“Being responsible for overseeing his care and going through that experience as a family was truly surreal,” said Christian. “But witnessing the nurses diligently taking care of him made us recognize how rewarding and passionate the profession is. It became a significant inspiration for us.”
The siblings started the Associate Degree in Nursing program at STC in 2020, encountering a new challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world halfway through their first semester.
Forced to transition to online and hybrid classes, they persevered and, after graduating, enrolled in the Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) program in 2022.
However, a month into the program, Christian had to withdraw because he did not pass his National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a registered nurse.
“I’m truly grateful to my brother for choosing to take a pause and wait for me so that we could continue our education together,” he said. “Nursing school can be a rigorous and challenging journey, and thankfully, we had each other for support and encouragement.”
Spending the rest of the year working in home health care provided valuable insights for the siblings, helping them narrow down the field they want to focus on. Returning to the program this year, they now have a clearer understanding of their preferred areas.
“Since graduating from the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program, I dedicated myself to working in home health, but losing a patient this year was really tough for me,” shared Andres. “Now, I want to focus more on the informatics (Information Technology) side of nursing or perhaps explore education.”
For Christian, currently employed at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, teaching remains a future goal, with his recently earned bachelor’s degree serving as a steppingstone into a master’s degree in nursing program.
“One of the best parts about the world of nursing is how you do not have to be confined to one box, there are so many avenues and pathways,” he said. “Nursing has given back to us a lot, and we’re really grateful we ventured into this career.”
The siblings expressed their gratitude to the college, appreciating not only the path it paved for a fulfilling career but also the chance to pursue a bachelor’s degree, made possible through the Mary Killoran scholarship.
The Garcia siblings were among the initial recipients of this scholarship, a $3,500 award generously donated by the retired nurse practitioner, Mary Killoran, earlier this year.
“This is a very self-rewarding career; you’re supporting yourself, but you’re also taking care of others,” said Christian. “It’s such a great feeling to know you have touched somebody’s life, or they give you the littlest compliment by saying you’ve made their day. It’s validation that these past five years of my life had a purpose.”
For more information on STC’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing or other Nursing and Allied Health programs, visit nah.southtexascollege.edu or call 956-872-3100.