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VC nursing program graduation a family celebration

By Bianca Montes
Aug. 3, 2013 at 3:03 a.m.
Updated Aug. 4, 2013 at 3:04 a.m.

Audrey Luna, far left, 34; her mother, Jane Aguirre, left, 56; her sister, Nichole Luna Garcia, center, 39; and Garcia's daughter-in-law, Samantha Sierra, right, 21, talk onstage at the Victoria Fine Arts Center before their graduation from Victoria College's Vocational Nursing Program. All four went through the program at the same time.

Over the years, Rebecca Barfield saw a lot of family members accepted into the vocational nursing program at Victoria College.

She taught sisters, a husband and wife team and even a few sets of twins.

But when Jane Aguirre walked into Barfield's classroom, it was the first time during the teacher's 16-year career with the college that she taught a mother, her two daughters and her granddaughter-in-law.

Friday, she watched the family of four light a candle and take their nurse's pledge during the 53rd annual Vocational Nursing Graduation at Victoria Fine Arts Center.

"It was just a God thing," Aguirre, 56, said about the family all joining nursing school at the same time.

Aguirre had just been laid off from her administrative job in the oil field. "Here I was, 52, and I didn't know what to do," she said.

Her father had just passed away, and over the years, she had seen him, her mother and her brother go into hospice care.

"That's when I got talking to God," she said. "I think I had always wanted to be a nurse, and I started saying, 'OK, I can do this.'"

What Aguirre didn't know was that both of her daughters also were considering careers in the nursing field.

Her daughter, Nichole Garcia, 39, was working as a dental assistant.

"We were sitting around and talking about it," Garcia said. "We kind of always wanted to do it."

Being able to watch hospice nurses care for her grandfather and being able to care for him hands-on, as well, inspired her to enroll in nursing school.

"I can't describe the feeling of taking care of your grandpa who is dying," she said, looking for the words to describe why caring for her grandfather inspired her return to school. "My heart just went out for him, and I wanted to do everything I could to make him feel better and comfort him. He taught us how to care for one another."

The Vocational Nursing Program at Victoria College is a competitive program, Barfield said.

The one-year program admits about 130 students at a time and is one of the top of its size in Texas, Barfield said.

Audrey Luna, 34, took most of her classes at the Cuero campus but said it did not change her experience being in a different location than her mother, sister and niece.

"I see it as I got a better experience for me personally," she said. "I made a lot of bonds with the people I went to school with. It was the best place I could have gone."

But that does not mean she didn't relish in the support of her family.

The group got together every night to study until 11 p.m. or later.

"As soon as I would drive into town, we would start our study group," Luna said. "I don't think it would have been this rewarding had I not done all that work with my family."

Aguirre also said that had it not been for family support, she likely would not have finished the program.

"We were scared," she said. "It's scary, and it's exciting at the same time. We didn't know anybody, but we had each other."

Aguirre also credits the instructors in the program. "If you're struggling, they will help you," she said. "As long as they know you want it and are putting in time, they will be there for you."

Although the group has graduated from the program, their journey is not over.

They all want to return to college after working in the field for a year to complete the registered nursing program; getting their licensed vocational nursing certificate was just a stop along their way, said Aguirre.

"It just goes to show you that when God has a journey for you to go on, it all comes together His way," she said. "It just so happened the Lord opened the door to LVN for all of us."

Aguirre will work at Citizens Medical Hospital and DeTar Hospital Navarro for the next year as a nurse technician before bridging into the RN program at Victoria College.

Her daughters, Luna and Garcia, are both looking for opportunities at area hospitals to work the required year before going into the RN program.

But for now, the group is returning to its study sessions to prepare for state exams.

"We're going to let ourselves rest this weekend," Luna said. "Come Monday morning, it's back to studying day and night."



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