HARLINGEN- Johanna Garcia Pena had a connection to nursing from an early age.
During a two-week stay at a hospital as a child, a nurse took notice to Pena feeling lonely from being away from her family.
“One nurse noticed I was feeling down while she was making her rounds, so she told me she would be back to check on me when she was done. When she re-entered the room and stayed talking to me for over 30 minutes, it meant a lot and had a great impact on me,” she said. “I decided I wanted to be a nurse, and do something where I have the opportunity to make a difference too one day in someone’s life, and do something that mattered.”
However, after graduating high school, Pena put her dreams on hold to raise her then 8-month-old son and support her husband. After a decade of climbing the corporate ladder and six years of marriage, which ended in a divorce, she realized she wanted something different for her future.
“It wasn’t until a few years ago I realized I wanted to work somewhere where I wanted to make difference still and this wasn’t the place, so I began slowly to take part time classes,” she said. “It has been a struggle. I have 3 boys, a 16-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 10-year-old, and coming to college, working to support them, along with their activities, has been a team effort.”
Pena is working toward her Associates Degree in Applied Science of Nursing Preparatory thanks to The Long Foundation. She said through the support of her children and donors like the Lozano-Long family, she will continue on to the Vocational Nursing Program with a goal of becoming a registered nurse and earning a bachelor’s degree in Science, specializing in geriatric care.
“My family and I are so grateful to the Lozano-Long family for this opportunity because without their help, I would not have been able to continue financially to focus on continuing my education and realizing my dreams of becoming a registered nurse so that I can make a difference,” she said.
Pena said the financial help has allowed her to concentrate on school work, without the burden of how to pay for tuition. Her dedication has led her to perfect attendance to all of her classes and a 3.97 Grade Point Average. She also lends her time as a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, in Harlingen, and as an Anatomy and Physiology tutor.
“Helping others has always been a passion of mine, and medicine in particular has fascinated me for some time,” she said. “Dedicating my life to improving the lives of people is very engaging to me. Although I have faced many challenges; balancing work, school, my children, I have a strong desire and deep commitment to finally reach for my dreams.”
For more information and opportunities for giving to TSTC Harlingen, contact Amy Lynch, Director for Institutional Advancement, at (956) 364-4500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.