From Banker to Magna Cum Laude Nursing Graduate

Harrold G.’s first job was in banking, but nothing about that career path made him feel like it was his calling.

Harrold talked with his family about his concerns for his future and what he could do to lead a fulfilling career and use his potential. A first generation Filipino-American, Harold said his parents’ input was vital in helping him choose his next goal — which was to pursue a career in healthcare.

Harrold, who now works as an emergency room nurse at Kaiser in Fontana, sat down with us to share his WCU experience and how his time here has propelled his future and given him unique experiences that made him stand out as a candidate when applying to residencies. 

Harrold’s Journey to Nursing

Growing up in a Filipino family, Harrold felt like he truly was able to integrate into American culture. Aside from being able to understand Tagalog, and a few instances of watching the Filipino channel with his mom when she fell ill in his youth, he was happy to be proudly Filipino and proudly American. 

One of the best parts of his culture was how supportive, motivating, and hands-on his family was when he decided to go for a career change. He started working in the banking industry in the Bay Area. In 2009 his mother needed someone to help take care of her until she returned to full health. During this time, Harrold had to take a step back from work and devote his energy to the woman who gave him everything. When she recuperated, he attempted to re-enter the banking workforce to find that he wasn’t able to continue at his previous position. This led him to realize that he wasn’t satisfied with his current path and needed a change. The first thought he had was to enter into the computer science field, but after further research felt it wasn’t for him. 

His family played a huge role in guiding him towards the healthcare field. His brother and father were both doctors, and his aunts were all nurses. When debating between the two options his family laid out for him; medical school seemed like too far of a stretch. He felt that nursing would be an equally rewarding adventure.

WCU Nursing Journey

Now that Harrold settled on a path, he had to find an institution that was going to take him on the road to accomplish his goals. He began applying to various schools, but the lottery system and the waitlists at public institutions left him without a place to study for a year. Growing impatient and eager to develop this new reality, he decided to start looking at private institutions and that’s when West Coast University came up. The staff at WCU made the process from inquiry to enrollment a breeze.  

He knew it would be tough, and at first, he didn’t do too well in science and biology courses. Once he started studying, he realized quickly just how smart he was. He realized that if he took the time to study and review what he was learning in classes, he could do a great job in school. At times, he stayed for his professors’ extra study sessions and found himself arranging study sessions with his classmates. 

How did he stay motivated? He credits his cohort for always motivating each other and holding each other accountable. The toughest part about the degree was the exit exams because you didn’t know what to expect. With an array of different teaching styles, learning how to best prepare for each standardized test proved difficult. However, he found a solution. If you know the people ahead of you, they can give you great advice, which professors to take based on your learning techniques, and how to best prepare for those big exams. This solution helped Harrold to graduate from WCU in 2015 with a magna cum laude distinction. 

One of the most memorable and possibly most challenging professors at WCU was Professor Alan Kim, who worked in PICU at the Children’s Hospital in Orange County. Many of his connections told him that he was a tough instructor. Normally in clinicals, you don’t take quizzes, but Professor Kim tested his students. If you did poorly on the quiz, you had to have a little remediation session; otherwise, you could miss out on participating in clinicals. Harrold is ahead of the game in realizing that sometimes with a little perspective on why some teachers can be challenging, it can help you approach  coursework the right way to excel no matter how much work is expected.  

Study Abroad

One of Harrold’s most memorable experiences was to be able to have the opportunity to participate in the West Coast University Honors program at Oxford University in England.  

When Harrold interviewed for the program, he felt excited, nervous, and anxious. Not too long after leaving the interview, he received the news that he got in, and he was in disbelief. He couldn’t believe that he was accepted to one of the most attractive opportunities that WCU has to offer. 

He was able to not only continue his education but experience a new culture in the middle of the 2014 World Cup where there was the big Germany/Brazil upset! The entire pub was standing room only, and he was able to experience all this emotion for one of the world’s largest sports. 

Sightseeing around London was a highlight as well. He spent time with his classmates getting to see old and ancient buildings and structures. He was so excited to share this experience with his cohort and have such a surreal time. From struggling to get their luggage up the cobblestone streets to fish and chip dinner on their first night, they made many memories, which added to their entire experience and camaraderie in the nursing program. 

Life Post WCU

When he arrived at Kaiser Fontana where he currently works, it was a great feeling to meet four other West Coast Alumni in his department. Though they were from different campuses, that didn’t affect the camaraderie that would follow. They enjoyed chatting about their memories and courses taken.

Now that he has started his new career, he stays involved as a WCU alumnus through the WCU Alumni Association Facebook group. It helps him see what’s going on, and he also has the opportunity to see questions future and new students have and be able to chime in and help out when he can.

His one piece of advice to a future WCU nursing student?

“Pharmacology was a tough term. Learn your medications and how they interact because they are really tough. Since you’re not on the floor with the drugs it can get confusing. It’s not hands-on as many of the other classes you will take. Don’t give up and make sure to organize little study sessions.”

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.