(HARLINGEN) – Kairo Castillo will join his family’s legacy of nursing tonight when he earns his certification in Vocational Nursing during Texas State Technical College’s commencement ceremony at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.
“I still can’t believe that I’m about to graduate. I’m so excited,” he said. “It won’t become real until I put on my cap and gown.”
The 21-year-old and at least 300 other TSTC students will earn certificates or associate degrees and join an alumni network made up of more than 100,000 graduates statewide.
“Nursing is in my blood,” said the Harlingen native. “It was always the plan for me.”
Castillo’s parents are nurses and he has personally seen the positive impacts nursing has on a family.
“My parents went to college late in life and survived the rigors of a nursing program to better our family,” he said. “If they could do it, so could I.”
Castillo’s family struggled financially before nursing became a part of their lives. The family of four lived in a one-bedroom apartment and at times with his grandparents. They never had a permanent place to call home.
“My sister and I vowed that we would get an education early, and that’s what I’m doing,” he said. “We both saw how education got us out of poverty, and now I’m working toward a career that will benefit me and my future family.”
Although Castillo still needs to pass the National Council Licensure Examination, he said he is excited and prepared to enter the workforce.
“I’m not going to lie. The program has been challenging and there were days I wanted to give up,” said Castillo. “But all of the instructors at TSTC know how to motivate and encourage you to keep going. They really do want to see us succeed in our exam and out in the field.”
He added that the best part of the program was the hands-on experience he received in the classroom and during clinicals.
“I’m not the same kid I was when I entered. This program really prepares you and matures you,” said Castillo. “The bar is set high for nursing students, and TSTC prepares us for the real world.”
Castillo said he wants to thank his instructors for their open-door policies and always offering the support he needed during his journey. It is because of his positive experience in the program that he hopes to return to TSTC to pursue registered nursing.
Castillo added, “Not only were my parents there to push me, but so was the faculty. That’s rare, but I’m glad they were there. I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
In the new year, Castillo hopes to find a full-time nursing position at a local outpatient clinic or acute care hospital.
“I love helping people, and nursing is my way of doing that,” he said. “I want to help others be the best they can be physically, emotionally and mentally. At the end of the day, that’s all I want.”
TSTC’s Commencement Ceremony is Friday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium.
For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit tstc.edu.