Unyielding Resolve: Cindy's Path to Nursing Excellence

Date: February 13, 2024

Even through the computer screen, Cindy Paredes, a vibrant and tenacious student enrolled in San Jacinto College's Associated Degree in Nursing program, exuded palpable energy. Despite the whirlwind of challenges swirling around her, Cindy's unwavering determination was nothing short of inspiring.

We spoke in November, amidst the chaos of clinical rotations and impending final exams, about Cindy's remarkable journey. Having relocated to Houston less than a year ago, she took a leap of faith fueled by a passion for nursing and a deep-rooted desire for personal growth. Juggling the demands of motherhood with three daughters in tow, Cindy's zest for learning and resilience shone through. Throughout our discussion, she radiated gratitude for the unwavering support of her boyfriend and eldest daughter, emphasizing the pivotal role her family played in her pursuit of academic excellence.

As Cindy shared anecdotes, it was evident that she wasn't just navigating her way through it; she was thriving. Her determination and unwavering spirit were a testament to her resilience, and it is a privilege to witness her journey firsthand as she charts a course toward her dream of becoming a nurse.

Jorge: Hi Cindy, thanks for meeting with me today. To start can you tell me what motivated you to move towards a career in nursing?

Cindy: So, I've been working on my pre-reqs since my little one started going to school. I gave myself an ultimatum. I told myself that as soon as she was in school full time, I wouldn’t have to pay for daycare and could focus on my own education.

I feel strongly about finishing what I start so it was in 2019 when I just decided to stop working full time and dedicate myself to going back to school.

J: Well, congrats on being in the program. It sounds like it took a lot of preparation to get here. What do you think helped you restructure your life to be able to accomplish this goal?

C: Yeah, I had to make a lot of sacrifices. From leaving a broken marriage of 13 years to learning to live on my own with three kids. It was a huge challenge. I tried buying a house and was trying to do those things on my own, but I kept running into financial setbacks.

I was at a crossroads. Either kick ass at my job and try to become a supervisor; like climb that work ladder or whatever but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted. I mean, it’s a good job and there’s a lot of options for growth but I had my heart set on something else.

J: What was that job?

C: I’m an insurance agent. I still do that part-time. I've been very fortunate that they work with my schedule and offer part-time hours. So, that's how I've managed despite the many times I’ve been so close to losing my job. Thanks to the little flexibility I have I've been able to manage my school commitments.

J: Well, I hope that they can be extra understanding with you, especially knowing everything you have on your plate right now.

C: People ask me how I do it. Honestly, I have no idea. I mean, it's kind of like a blur. It's gone so fast. When I was in Austin, I had a career navigator. Things were getting tough: my electricity got shut off, I had to go stay at a hotel because it was, like, the middle of summer. I told my career navigator, “ I can't do this anymore. I have to go back to working full-time.”

She encouraged me to stick it out and offered to find help for me. I get emotional thinking about it. So many times, I was ready to quit school and just go back to working full-time because being in school is frustrating and hard. But, yeah, I've stuck it out.

J: It's so important to keep in mind that it’s a temporary situation because once you've got that degree, you know, you're going to be getting paid so much more. It's going to be worth it.

C: That’s funny you say that because I just was telling my sister the same thing. I don't have much of a social life right now. I'm either working or at school and now I have even less time because of clinicals. I sleep as much as I can and my sister tells me she’s surprised that I haven’t gone out to socialize with friends but I have no time for that. It’s kind of depressing but I keep telling myself it's only temporary. I just have to keep going.

J: Hang in there! You’ll get into the flow of the program and before you know it, you’ll be graduating. Who’s support have you been able to count on as you continue along this path?

C: So, I've been handling most of this on my own. Currently, I live with my partner, and we've been together for about a year and a half. Back in June 2023, I was enrolled in the nursing program in Austin when I received some unfortunate news: my rent, which was based on my income, was about to increase significantly.

As a single mom of three and working only part-time, income-based housing was my only viable option. However, the rent hike was too much.

It was already a challenge to make ends meet with my part-time job of 20 to 25 hours a week. The increase in rent was causing me immense stress, especially as I had just started my first semester in the nursing program.

Feeling overwhelmed, I didn't know how I was going to manage. My boyfriend, although hesitant to intervene, acknowledged the difficulty of my situation. He understood the competitiveness of the nursing program and recognized my commitment to it.

He gently suggested that relocating to Houston, where he could provide support, might be a viable option. Despite the upheaval it would cause for my daughters and their schooling, and the uncertainty of getting into a program in a new city, I decided to take the leap of faith.

Moving to Houston seemed daunting, considering its size and the potentially higher level of competition. However, I weighed my options and decided to give it a shot. Surprisingly, I was accepted into the nursing program at San Jacinto on my first attempt.

Now, my boyfriend is my primary source of support, as I don't have any other connections here. My eldest daughter has also been a big help, especially with the two younger ones. It's been a challenging journey, but their encouragement and assistance have been such a blessing during this transitional period.

J: Oh wow! I wasn’t aware you were a participant of Capital IDEA Austin.

C: Yeah, that's how I started. The support provided by the program was probably the biggest reason why I decided to go back to school. I was like, they’re willing to pay for you. They're willing to pay for textbooks and everything else. I have no excuse not to do it.

J: And what about nursing was calling to you?

C:  Nursing has always been what I've wanted. I knew at a very young age that that's what I wanted to do. I did try other things because I knew the nursing program was very demanding. At some point, before being alone, I tried business management and education.

But just wasn't my thing. I ended up going back, changing my career back to nursing.

J: How are the girls liking the new schools here in Houston?

My oldest is thriving. She's doing very well. She’s got a great group of friends. She's working and she's happy, which makes me happy, too. Seeing this makes me feel like I made a good decision.

J: Now that you have been working with Capital IDEA Houston for a while , what do you feel is the most meaningful support that you've received?

C: I just started with Capital IDEA Houston so I’m still getting a feel for the program. Back in Austin I had developed a close bond with my career navigator and hope that I can find that kind of close relationship with my Houston career navigator too.

J: When is your expected graduation date?

C: March 2025. It hurts my soul to hear myself say that. It just seems so far away but I know I just got to stick with it.

J: Well, Cindy, we're so happy you're here, and that we can support you along the way. We're here to figure out things with you.

C: Yeah. That’s the thing I like about the Capital IDEA program. Knowing that I have that support is a huge thing for me. Having this support is especially important for single parents such as myself. We're trying to go back to school. Being relieved of the financial burden of school takes a big weight off your shoulders. Without the sponsorship, I don’t think it would have been possible.

J: Thank you, Cindy. I appreciate the time you've spent here with me, answering my questions, and getting to know each other.

C: Well, thank you so much. And you have a great day.

J: Thank you, you too! Nice chatting with you.

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