Meet Luisa Carvajal
Luisa Carvajal of Athens is originally from Colombia, South America, and made the move to Tennessee with her family as a child. This semester, she is serving on the student committee for the College of Nursing’s Undergraduate Academic Standards Committee and hopes to represent ETSU at a student policy summit in Washington, D.C. She will graduate in May and has already accepted a position as a hospice oncology nurse at Holston Valley Medical Center.
Tell us a little bit about your move from Colombia to Tennessee.
I came to the states when I was around 5 years old. I came with my mom and my brothers. My grandmother and most of my family were already here. We came straight to Athens, and once I graduated from high school in 2015, I moved to Kingsport to attend Northeast State to complete my prerequisites. Then I transferred to ETSU for the nursing program.
Why did you choose nursing?
Because I am Hispanic, my family didn’t understand the language very well while I was growing up. Since I grew up in America, I picked it up. So, I became the translator for my family. We had to go to a lot of doctor’s offices due to my family’s health, so I was always in and out of them. I always asked questions because I needed to interpret correctly, and I was always curious. Doctor’s offices and hospitals became my second home. I just fell in love with health care as a whole. My grandma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when I was in middle school, and going through that process with her made me even more interested in what was going on with her and her body. The nurses who helped her were just really amazing, and they were really God-given to us. I guess I fell in love with them as nurses and what they did.
What specialty are you focusing on in nursing?
Coming in, I thought I wanted to go one route, but right now oncology and hospice are really tugging at my heart. It’s something that I’ll probably end up doing for a year or two. The beauty of nursing is that you can do anything once you’ve gotten that degree. Right now, I feel like the Lord is calling me to oncology and hospice. After that, I want to try different things. I was able to do hospice and oncology this summer. I got a nurse intern position at Holston Valley and I was on W3, which is a hospice and oncology floor, so I was able to be in that atmosphere. I’d already seen it from a family perspective because of my grandmother, so then I got to see it from the actual medical field perspective. It is something very hard, but it is also something completely beautiful. I fell in love with my patients and their families, and hospice as a whole.
How has being a first-generation college student shaped your college experience?
Even though my mom was able to provide for us, I did not want to end up where she
was. She works in a factory, and that’s very hard work. I knew that going to college
was what I wanted to do. It has shaped me to be very determined and trusting in the
Lord that He would get me through so that I could reach my goals.