Chances are if you run into West Coast University-Los Angeles nursing student Lilybeth Fuentes, you’ll find Emily Rodriguez nearby.
Emily and Lilybeth first met in 2015 at a local community college while taking nursing pre-requisite courses and immediately connected — but not because they both wanted to be nurses.
“We bonded over stationary,” the duo said, laughing. “So, we decided to take as many classes as we could together before applying to nursing school.”
Now the pair are set to graduate with their bachelor’s of science in nursing degree next year — but the road to fulfilling their dreams has been anything but easy.
Soon after they began looking at nursing schools, Lilybeth experienced several family hardships that delayed her nursing education but solidified her desire to help others.
“Within four years, my sister, brother and dad were diagnosed with colon cancer and my sister and brother ended up passing away,” Lilybeth shared. “It was four years of being in and out of the hospital and nurses helping all of us. I knew I wanted to become a nurse and give back like the nurses helped me and my family.”
Meanwhile, Emily was frustrated with her community college nursing program, after needing to repeat a tough course, but being unable to get back in the rotation to take the class right away.
“I was also going through some family stuff and decided to take a year off to focus on myself too,” she shared.
But while Emily was frustrated, she didn’t give up. Since taking high school ROP classes, she knew that she wanted to become a nurse.
“I got to shadow a nurse at a children’s hospital and I felt like I could really do this, I could see myself caring for patients,” Emily said.
Both Emily and Lilybeth reconnected with a friend from community college who was now enrolled in West Coast University’s BSN program and encouraged them both to apply.
“I was starting to feel hopeless like we were trying so hard and doors weren’t opening,” Lilybeth shared.
“We had gone to informational meetings at colleges all over LA County and everything was waitlist or lottery,” Emily said.
“But then we went to West Coast and everyone was so nice and friendly, and went above and beyond to answer all of our questions. We just had a really great experience,” she added about the WCU Admissions team.
Shortly after Lilybeth and Emily enrolled, the pandemic hit, and classes went online. Both ladies stayed connected with their classmates via apps like What’s App, Instagram and Google Meet, and have been excited about meeting with their classmates face-to-face this past term.
“When we got our WCU scrubs it hit me that this is very exciting and real,” Lilybeth shared.
“I felt like ‘Wow, I am a nursing student,’” Emily added. “This is my second chance, and I won’t let anything knock me down.”
Now in the final year of their BSN program, both Emily and Lilybeth are focused on staying organized with the help of their favorite stationary tools and finding balance where they can.
“We love Sharpie gel pens, Midline highlighters, gel pens and a good planner,” Emily shared. “I also love downloading assignments on my iPad so I can take notes directly in the presentation.”
“I really struggled with balance, especially balancing time with my family because they are so important to me and I learned you just never know how long you’ll have them,” Lilybeth shared. “It’s hard for me to say no to helping my family but I’ve learned to say ‘no’ more and they’ve been understanding. So, I’ve found better balance this term and am focused on school.”