It was my Senior year in high school when I was confronted with the very real thought that I would be graduating soon and I had to pick what I was going to do with my life. I frankly had not put a lot of thought prior to now what I was going to be doing for a living for the rest of my life. The prospect of one decision determining my entire life seemed daunting to me.
So I did what I did best… I procrastinated. “What is your passion?” my teachers and career counselors would ask. As a 17-year-old, all I could think about was… friends “but I can’t make a career out of hanging out friends” I would think to myself. I was in the Army JROTC program. It was competitive, it was fun…” so perhaps I’ll join the army,” I thought.
As we got closer and closer to graduation my relationship with my dad deteriorated.
My dad was always grumpy. He had very little patience for my teenage insolence. He was a hard-working man he always had two jobs since arriving here in the United States. In Mexico, he was very successful, he was the Chief Financial Officer for the “Banco Mexicano Somex” in Acapulco.
He was…old school, a proud Mexican man, head of household who provided for his family. He grew up in poverty but through his own hard work and perseverance as well as the love of his supporting wife, my mom, he went to school and became an accountant. He rose through the ranks in the bank. He acquired property, put me through the best schools, provided for his family, and then one day he lost it all.
He always thought that my rebellious behavior stemmed from a lack of respect due to his current circumstances. “when you were a kid I gave you everything and now you don’t want to listen to me son” he would say. “ you don’t respect me because you see your friends having better things than I can provide” he would scorn. Truthfully I really didn’t know why I was so rebellious, I just didn’t appreciate him yelling at me and bossing me around all the time. One day something happened between us that forced me to grow up, things would never be the same after that incident.
Nowhere to turn to
One Saturday morning, as usual, my dad was telling me to do chores. As usual, I would procrastinate. He came into my room and turned off the tv. “go wash the bathroom right now!!” he yelled. I continued to procrastinate, but worse still, I reacted. What followed, as I look back with mature eyes, could have and should have been handled so much better!
It was the day I left the house.
I went to a park, sat down, and contemplated my predicament. I had no money, no job, nowhere to turn to. As the sun began to set “where am I going to sleep?” I thought “what am I going to do with my life?” , “I have to finish school somehow” and hundreds of other thoughts were running through my head.
I began to bargain with myself, I promised myself that if my luck changed and I landed somewhere I was going to do my best so I never find myself in this position. No value to society and full of despair caused by my own lack of foresight and poor decision making.
I had to go back home and apologize to my parents. Hoping they would give me a second chance, I truly couldn’t survive on my own.
So I went back home
and they took me back but things would not be the same for me. I had to become a man. As I returned to school on Monday, I went to the counselors’ office, I inquired about occupational programs. They gave me information on NOCROP (North Orange County Regional Occupational Program).
I applied and began the process to enter their CNA program. I had been told that I could find a job easily and could start working within 6 months.
On the day of my High School graduation, I had to take the entrance exam for their medical core class. I remember receiving my diploma and running to catch the bus so I could make it on time. I was late and they told me I couldn’t take the test anymore.
I explained the situation, that I had just graduated high school, I was still wearing my cap and gown. The teacher graciously agreed to make an exception for me.
As I began the program I quickly realized that this was my calling. With each day and each clinical rotation as a certified nursing assistant, the fog of uncertainty was lifting and my goal was clear now… to become a nurse. I want to bring the most value to the most people, and every step I take in my career is helping my path go in that direction.