When Rosmery Santana first considered a career in medicine, she wanted to be a doctor.
A few members in her family were doctors — including her sister in Cuba — but when her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, Santana began to see a difference in how nurses and doctors interacted with patients.
"As a nurse you get to take care of the patient more," she said. "You’re more in contact with them, you’re more there for them. So I decided. I changed my mind."
Santana was born and raised in Cuba. Her father left for the United States when she was 7, leaving her mother to raise the family; seven years later, they were reunited in Miami.
Santana said the transition was difficult in the beginning. Cuba was like "a completely different world," she said, adding that learning English as a teenager was a struggle.
“When I first got here they put me in regular English-taught classes. I had no idea what was going on. I used to cry every day when I came home from middle school,” Santana said.
When Santana would do homework or school projects, her mom would help as much as she could, despite not being able to read or write English herself.
“She used to sit down with me and say, ‘I’m just going to be here for moral support. I’m just going to be here if you need anything,’" Santana said. "I tried my best to do as much as I could, and I feel proud because I’m a nursing student now."
Santana and six others are part of West Coast University's first BSN cohort in Miami. When Santana started there were only 20 students at WCU-Miami. Santana had attended other schools before WCU and was surprised when professors recognized her in the halls.
“Since we’re so little, you’re more in touch with the professors and you just see them in the hallway and they say, ‘Hi!’ and they remember your name and everything. It’s like, ‘Oh, wow. That’s good,'" she said. "My experience here is more student-centered. You get more access to the staff and you get whatever you need. West Coast in great."