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Celebrating First-Gen Nursing Students at PVCC

Celebrating First-Gen Nursing Students at PVCC

In celebration of National First-Generation College Day on November 8th, which honors the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, meet two of Paradise Valley Community College’s inspiring and hardworking nursing students.

Alondra Alonso

Alondra always wanted to work in health care with dreams of becoming a doctor. As she got older and matured, however, she realized that nursing was her calling. “I’m a people person and I like to help others,” she said, explaining that nurses tend to be more hands-on than doctors, spending much more time with patients.

As a bilingual Latina, growing up Alondra regularly accompanied her parents to doctors appointments and still does.

“I found there can be a lot of misinformation and miscommunication, especially in health care, when patients don’t speak English as their first language. It was helpful to translate information for my parents into Spanish and if I can do that for someone else that would be great.”

Alondra, who is currently in Block 2 of PVCC’s four-block nursing program, hopes to work in pediatric medicine. She is a dual student in the college’s Concurrent Enrollment Program (CEP) and will graduate with her Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) concurrently. She is also a member of the Student’s Nursing Association (SNA) and currently acts as class rep, attending all SNA meetings and events, then communicating the information back to her class of students.

Sarah Smith

Sarah spent 10 years as a juvenile correctional officer before following her true passion of nursing.

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” she said. Originally swayed by the long and competitive waitlist for nursing school when she graduated high school, it wasn’t until her kids were a bit older that she took that leap and joined PVCC’s nursing program in 2018.

The first in her family to go to college, Sarah is set to graduate this fall and hopes to work in emergency medicine or critical care. Also a CEP student, Sarah has been actively involved in the SNA since Block 1. Prior to the pandemic, Sarah was treasurer of SNA and participated in community outreach and volunteer opportunities. She also volunteers as a nursing mentor and tutor for her classmates. Sarah was accepted into the Banner Student Preceptorship Program, helping students successfully transition from a new graduate to a fully competent, professional nurse, and will begin her journey this November.

Are you a first-gen student attending PVCC? Share your story with us. Email

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