Alumna’s Story of Success Spans From Courtrooms to Hospitals, Venezuela to the United States

Alumna’s Story of Success Spans From Courtrooms to Hospitals, Venezuela to the United States

In a journey across continents and careers, West Coast University-Miami alumna Stella M., BSN ’23, shared her inspiring story transitioning from a legal background to nursing.

Born and raised in Venezuela, Stella grew up with dreams of becoming a doctor. However, when it came time to choose a degree, circumstances pushed her down a different path.

“My city in Venezuela didn’t have a medical school,” Stella explained. “I was the only daughter of my father, and he didn’t want me to go to another city, so I pursued law school and have my bachelor’s and master’s in the science of law.”

Despite having a law degree, Stella found herself starting over when she had to leave her home country of Venezuela for political reasons. She came to the United States and adapted as best as she could. Instead of practicing law, she worked as a server in the restaurant industry, a shift that she described as “a huge shock.”

However, life had one more curveball to throw her way. When the pandemic caused her restaurant to close, Stella began looking for work in other industries, and ended up working as a patient care technician (PCT) in the healthcare setting. As a PCT, Stella was reminded of her passion for medicine and decided she would fight for the career she wanted. She also hoped to be a role model for her 3-year-old daughter.

“I always tried to teach her that we can be whatever we want,” Stella said. “We just need to work hard.” So that’s exactly what Stella did.

Seizing the opportunity to fulfill her childhood dream, Stella enrolled in WCU’s nursing program in April 2022. Despite English not being her first language, her sheer determination and commitment led her to pass the NCLEX just 11 days after completing her program. She also graduated with a 3.98 GPA, with the lowest grade she ever received being an A-.

Her pinning ceremony on Nov. 14, 2023 was a special moment because she had already passed her licensure exam and was able to be recognized officially as a registered nurse. “That’s why I can tell you West Coast University prepared me for that,” Stella said.

Stella credited WCU for providing the tools and resources necessary for her success, from skilled professors to research facilities and tutoring services. She remains proud to be a WCU alum. “West Coast University was like my home. I miss my classrooms and my professors,” Stella said. “I feel really proud of being a West Coast University student and graduate.”

After graduating, Stella was hired to work in the trauma unit of the ICU starting in January 2024. It was the culmination of all her hard work and the realization of a longstanding dream. “I have achieved my goal,” she said, emphasizing the meaning she finds in connecting with patients. “When patients are in the intensive care unit, they are intubated and on ventilators, so they cannot speak, but you can see the patients speaking with their eyes.”

Looking ahead, Stella plans to gain two years of experience in the ICU before deciding between pursuing a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) credential or becoming a nurse practitioner.

Stella’s daughter is now 10 years old and proud of her mom. “She was the first person during my ceremony screaming and yelling, ‘Mom I love you! I’m proud of you!’” Her daughter hopes to become a nurse in the future, just like her mother and like Stella’s mother, who is also a nurse. “My father and mother met in the hospital,” Stella said. “My mom was taking care of my grandma, my dad’s mom.”

As Stella continues to contemplate her future, she expresses a desire to return to WCU, citing the university’s impact on her success. “I want to be an example to others that if we fight for what we want, we can do it,” Stella said. “If you are at West Coast University, you can do it in the same way that I did.”

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.