Damian Gonzalez
'11, BSN, Nursing

The Lourdes nursing program focuses heavily on the holistic care of patients," says Damian Gonzalez. "As a graduate, I know that nursing care goes beyond the obvious medical requirements of the patient and addresses other important needs that improve the patient's ability to cope, heal, recover, and maintain health."

As a Registered Nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Mount Carmel West Hospital in Columbus, OH, Damian works with a patient population that has experienced traumatic injuries, sometimes requiring extensive surgeries. "By far, the greatest benefit of my work is knowing that during my shift, I am making a difference in my patients' health and assisting their families with their emotional distress and knowledge of what is occurring and why."

His parents played the greatest role in helping him achieve his dream. "They sacrificed so much to ensure I received a quality education and satisfying career." Damian immigrated to the United States with his mom and stepdad a week before he turned 11. His father had already moved from Cuba and had settled in Columbus, paving the way for the others to follow suit and leave a country where "Communism has depressed the economy."

Damian credits the Columbus City Schools' English as a Second Language (ESL) program for helping to make the transition as smooth as possible. He recalls attending history and science classes, listening to instructors but not understanding anything they were saying. At the end of each school day, he would then attend his ESL class and begin the long process of learning English. Surprisingly though, he says he learned English the fastest by watching cartoons.

Last year, Damian realized two dreams – he became a U.S. citizen and received his nursing degree. He says he owes his success to his parents. He is grateful to his fiancée Rachel. "Her strong work ethic and unwavering belief and interest in my dreams have been of great importance to me."

The couple met in high school and have supported each other throughout their educational pursuits. In spring, Rachel completed her own educational dream – obtaining her doctorate in physical therapy. The couple plans to marry this year.

For those pursuing a nursing degree, Damian says the rigorous coursework and schedule are daunting. In the end though, he says it is all worth it. "In high school, I remember how fascinated I was to learn what was possible through the health sciences. Today, my nursing degree allows me to care for people at their bedside and utilize the health profession to truly improve their physical and emotional health."