Bárbara Sánchez lost a younger brother while going through Fresno City College’s registered nursing program.
That was on top of being mother to three children – ages 10, 12 and 17.
She never gave up.
“I feel proud to finally be done,” said Sánchez who was born in Fresno and raised in Del Rey.
Sánchez was among approximately 105 students whose journey came to an end over the weekend as they graduated from the nursing program on Saturday (May 25) at the historic Fresno High School auditorium.
The nursing program, which is the largest in the state and second largest in the entire nation, is very rigorous, according to faculty speaker Bill Baldwin.
Baldwin said the graduating nursing students “have sacrificed much more than one, two years of their lives for the program. They have sacrificed time with family, friends and some have experienced loss during the program but were unable to focus on these negative times as they were in the nursing program.”
“This unwavering drive is what makes students into great nurses,” Baldwin said, adding that their commitment is “what healthcare today needs to meet the increasing demand for compassionate, high-quality care and it is what our patients deserve.”
Sánchez, 32, said she hopes to work as a nurse in the field of pediatrics.
“We love her very much and I’m very proud of her,” said Emma Ríos, Sánchez's mother whose voice broke as she spoke of her daughter and her accomplishments.
Sánchez was surrounded by her husband Juan Carlos De la Rosa, her children and many relatives after the ceremony.
Ríos – who is originally from Huetámo, Michoacán, Mexico – said that out of her six children, Sánchez the first to graduate with a degree.
“She struggled a lot. I watched her suffer a lot, but it was worth (her effort).”
Ríos said her daughter worked very hard to finish the program.
“She really wanted it, we supported her,” Ríos said.
In the ‘Graduate Thank Yous’ printed inside the program, Sánchez had a dedication in both English and Spanish.
“Gracias madre por su apoyo, mis chiquilines y Carlos por aguantarme (Thank you mother for your support, my kids and Carlos for putting up with me). Thank you to my family and friends for the love, encouragement, and support. Un abrazo hasta el cielo Manuel ‘Shorty’ Sanchez S46 (A hug to the sky Manuel 'Shorty' Sanchez S46),” Sánchez wrote.
During the pinning ceremony, applause and cheers could be heard as the name of the graduating nursing students was mentioned.
Nursing director Stephanie Robison encourage students at Saturday’s ceremony to further their education and to come back to teach and be part of the faculty at the program sometime in the future.
The pinning ceremony also included the nightingale pledge and lighting of the lamp. By reciting the pledge, graduating nursing students pledge, “to practice my profession faithfully.”
The light symbolizes the compassion and the spirit of caring for all people.