Contributed by Kuya Mario Lopez (CAL ACE CNA Graduate of June 2023)
Every morning, as the sun came up, I’d find myself waking up next to my little boy, Miguel. His small, peaceful face constantly reminded me why I kept pushing forward. Life was tough being his only parent, but I had a big dream that kept me going: I wanted to be a nurse. I believed that with this job, both Miguel and I could have a better life.
Before I could become a nurse, though, there was a step I needed to take. I had to become a Certified Nurse Assistant or CNA. After searching for the right place, I found CAL ACE Nursing Academy. It felt right.
The course was 7 weeks in total. 60 hours were online, where I’d listen and learn, and then 100 hours where I practiced what I learned in a real place. I was so grateful for the online hours. It meant I could stay with Miguel. I’d play the lessons when he was playing or even when he took his little afternoon naps. This was such a help to me.
Money was always tight, and I worried about how to pay for the course. But the academy told me I could pay a little now and then a little later. This eased my mind a lot. It felt like my dream could truly come true.
At CAL ACE, the people were like a gift. The teachers were so understanding, helping me when some English words were tricky. My classmates became like my friends, almost like a second family. Together, we laughed, we studied, and we helped one another.
There were nights when I felt so tired. Balancing taking care of Miguel, work and my studies sometimes felt too much. But the thought of a brighter future for Miguel and me pushed me forward.
Then, the big test day arrived. My heart raced, but I tried to remember everything I learned. After I finished, the wait began. Days felt long, and I hoped I had passed.
One sunny day, a letter with my results came. I opened it, my hands shaking, and found myself smiling wide. I passed! I was officially a CNA. That paper wasn’t just paper; it was proof of my hard work.
Strive and reach your goal like a hungry lion hunting for his lunch.Mario Almario
Soon after, I found a good job close to where we lived. They paid me $30 an hour. I felt so thankful. And then, another piece of good news arrived: a letter inviting me to join a nursing program in winter. My heart leaped with joy!
As I sat one evening, thinking about everything, I realized how far I had come. All those late nights, the moments of doubt, and the challenges were worth it. Step by step, I was getting closer to my dream.
With my little Miguel beside me, I felt I could face anything. Each new day was a chance to move closer to my imagined future. I truly believed that with hard work and never giving up, dreams can come true.