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Arizona or Bust

Using relocation to turn a dream into reality

By Debby Wadsworth, Freelance Writer

Ingrid Duarte

The dream of becoming a nurse to help people is a universal desire shared by nurses. What it takes to turn that dream into reality varies by individual. Each of us is unique, encountering our own set of challenges along the way to a career. Problems range from little bumps in the road to hills or even mountains.

Challenges come from various places like fears, events, academics, location, family, and many more. Maybe you have always had a fear of needles, because of an incident earlier in life. Or it could be that you struggle with not being able to help someone suffering in pain. For one aspiring nurse, Ingrid Duarte, challenges came even before she applied for nursing school. To make her dream a reality, she had to overcome both her family scared by Covid-19 and living in California.

Ingrid Duarte grew up in California with her mother and six siblings. Over the years, her mother repeatedly told her children, “To help others and make her contribution to society,” according to Duarte. “Be kind to people.” Her mother also served as a role model, exhibiting determination, and hard work. “She worked, went to school to get her teaching degree, and took care of us,” Duarte said.

Duarte’s upbringing has been influential throughout her life. “I have always known I wanted to help people since I was young,” Duarte said. “I remember hearing stories from my parents about their childhood.” Her parents came from humble beginnings, where they didn’t always have the best access to healthcare. “Since then I just knew I wanted to be a part of that change in my community,” Duarte said. Inspiration on how to help people came from her mother’s health issues, including diabetes and high blood pressure. The final trigger was a stroke. “My mom having a stroke in 2019 solidified nursing for me,” according to Duarte.

California was extremely competitive

Duarte started working toward her dream of becoming a nurse in California. But it was a nightmare. It seemed just about everyone over the age of 17 was trying to be accepted by nursing schools. The fierce competition made it seem nearly impossible. She thought there had to be another way and started looking for other options.

She liked the idea of relocating for nursing school. While she pondered what to do, her boyfriend relocated to the Phoenix area for a job. Soon after, Duarte’s boyfriend began trying to persuade her to move there too. Duarte remembers thinking, “Arizona is a state away from California, not as crowded, and things are slower.” Duarte also thought she would have a better chance of getting into nursing school.

Phoenix here I come!

Duarte decided she would move to Phoenix. She then convinced her sister and sister’s boyfriend to help. Together, they packed up her little two-door car, and Duarte went to say goodbye to her mother. The goodbye became more than she expected. “My mom didn’t believe I was going and did not want to say goodbye,” Duarte said. It took a while for her mother to accept it, all while questioning her daughter’s decision, and then they were off!

They arrived in Phoenix tired after the long drive, yet excited. Duarte felt the move would make it possible for her to become a nurse. She started settling in, looking for a job, and found one at a bank. Duarte also began taking classes in preparation for a nursing program. She earned a general associate degree, along with completing nursing school prerequisites. Shortly after that, she started looking at nursing programs.

“I wanted it (nursing program) to be something educational, but not just books and theory,” according to Duarte. “I want it to be real life, and see nursing practices in real life, not just something out of a textbook.” She liked what she saw at Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and applied.

I never thought I would see a pandemic in my lifetime

Nursing school acceptance came in February of this year; at the same time, Covid-19 came onto the news scene. Despite the pandemic news, “I knew this was what I wanted,” Duarte said. “I never thought in my lifetime I would see a pandemic, or I could tell my kids this is what I saw.”  After contacting her mother with the good news about acceptance, her decision was once again challenged. “I remember my mom texting me the day I got into nursing school asking me ‘Are you sure, have you heard everything about Covid-19?’,” Duarte said. “There was no turning back.”

Since then, she has started nursing school and had only a few eye-opening experiences rather than challenges. One of them relates to her fellow students. “I was surprised by so many out of high school, and a lot of older people too who have been doing their career for 5, 10 years,” Duarte said. She also said it’s disappointing that most classes will continue to be online. “We were supposed to start in August, but now it will be all online with a small group for clinicals,” according to Duarte.

As for the coming months, she looks forward to trying all nursing specialties, especially obstetrics and pediatrics, and will decide after they are completed. Right now, she is interested in preventative care, wellness programs, to recovery. There is plenty of time to decide with her graduation planned for August of 2022. Duarte will graduate with an Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) from a community college, and Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) from Edson College. “Someday I’d also like to do some humanitarian work as a nurse in different states or countries,” Duarte said.

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