The below story was shared with CECU by Nicole Hessabi who is a student at West Coast University. In March, Nicole will be attending CECU’s 2018 Hill Day in Washington, D.C. to share with lawmakers the positive impact that career education has had on her life.
I was ten years old when I became a United States citizen. I stood there, fervently clutching onto my souvenir, a tiny American flag. I was overwhelmed with a sense of awe. I remember feeling both amazed and bewildered at the anticipation that was so palpable in the auditorium that day. Too young to understand the gravity of the moment and oblivious to the great difficulties millions have experienced in order to stand where I stood. I was instead consumed with
enormous excitement over the fact that on this day, my mother willfully allowed me to play hooky from my fifth-grade classroom.
In a rare display of public emotion, only moments after the completion of the ceremony, my mother turned towards me, kneeled down, and pulled me in close. Her makeup obscured by her tear stained cheeks, she emphatically said to me, “Today we are Americans!”. Perplexed by the powerful display of emotions by nearly every single individual in my vicinity, I chose to simply take in the moment believing that one day I would understand the significance of this day. Indeed, as the years pass, I have come to understand what it means to be an American. To be an American means that my race, my religion, my gender, my socioeconomic status-- none of these things place a barrier over my ability to achieve success. This liberating conviction that is the American dream has been an abundant fount of motivation as I engage my academic pursuits.
In the years immediately following my high school graduation, I felt a burden of responsibility to provide relief for my mother, who at that point had been working two jobs in order to pay for our mortgage. So, I began to work, not one job, not two jobs, but at one point I held three separate minimum wage jobs. During this time, I remember distinctly fantasizing about what it would be like to go to college. I grew increasingly frustrated with the opportunity cost I was experiencing as a result of delaying my education. Yet I had a profound understanding that the majority of higher education institutions did not cater towards someone in my position. I lacked fiscal and social support and in order to successfully complete my education, I needed to do so efficiently and with access to as many resources as I could get my hands on.
I was in my early twenties when I fell in love with the idea of possibility. I was enamored with the process of using my education to not only achieve the American dream, but to change the world in a meaningful way that would forever impact the lives of those in my community and even those beyond my geographical borders. I was confident that nursing was my calling, but what I was not confident about was finding the right school for me. I diligently began to survey the academic landscape around me. I became an expert in matters of accreditation, matriculation rates, attrition rates, and NCLEX pass rates. I stumbled upon West Coast University through a simple google search and reached out to an admissions counselor by phone. I was invited to attend an orientation session and so I did. Before I knew it, I was signing paperwork that would serve as the catalyst to incredible change in my life-- it was admission paperwork.
Today I am a proud and passionate West Coast University, BSN student. I am a campus tutor for the Peer Assisted Learning program at my WCU campus, as well as a member of my school’s California Nursing Students’ Association. I have been on the academic dean’s list nearly every term and have worked hard at fostering excellent interpersonal relationships with my professors and my peers. With these things in mind, it would be an incredible honor to attend Hill day and share my passion for West Coast University with members of the House and Senate.
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