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A Decade of Perseverance at the Hunt School of Nursing

By Paloma Romero, courtesy of El Paso Inc.


I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. There were no major defining moments, only the scenarios in my everyday life: My father coming home exhausted from his job as an emergency medical technician, and my mother with the life lessons she learned as a certified nursing assistant. My parents worked hard but reminded me of their passion for health care and how the reward of helping others outweighed the tough nature of their jobs.


I grew up in a low-income household, understanding that the journey through college is a balancing act. Working, attending classes and clinical rotations, studying and tackling financial hardship felt like an unbalanced scale. I’m also among the 56% of college students who are the first in their families to receive a bachelor’s degree. While it’s an accomplishment, it also comes with challenges.


Paloma Romero
Paloma started her accelerated BSN program in 2021.

I’ve faced hardships in my life, which affected my studies and extended the time I’ve spent in college. I pursued higher education for nine years before being accepted to the Hunt School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.


My story is not unlike many of the stories of many of my peers. They’re mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who want to make a difference in our community and in the lives of their families.


When I think of the Hunt School of Nursing, I think of hope – the hope I felt when my mother’s coworker suggested the school to me and the sense of a new beginning when I was accepted into the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2021.


The school has educated more than 1,000 nurses, while also providing local and nontraditional students with economic opportunity they may never have had before its establishment. Many of its graduates serve in local hospitals today.


Since the Hunt School of Nursing’s 10th anniversary in 2022, my peers and mentors have shared the ways the school is creating a brighter future for the borderland. This includes reducing its critical shortage of nurses, educating the nation’s future Hispanic nurses and establishing early-admission programs so local high school students can achieve their dreams at a young age and preserve their financial aid.


However, there is no greater accomplishment than the lives we’ve touched through compassionate care, especially during El Paso’s most difficult moments.



Among our alumni are nurses working in various medical departments throughout the city, traveling nurses who have made a positive impact in areas hard-hit by COVID-19 and educators who are mentoring future trusted nursing heroes. I’m proud to follow in their footsteps.


Reflecting on the past 10-plus years since the Hunt School of Nursing opened, there are many to thank. The success and the opportunity I and so many others have had to change our life stories wouldn’t be possible without our community, their scholarship support and confidence in our abilities.


While the history of the Hunt School of Nursing is about perseverance, it’s also about the people of El Paso who believed the future of health care is here on the U.S.-Mexico border, and that the future of nursing could look just like me.


 

Caring for the Borderplex


Paloma Romero’s story is just one of the many examples of homegrown talent with goals of caring for patients in their own community. By supporting students like Romero, TTUHSC El Paso donors and champions have ensured there will be health care heroes looking over our most vulnerable neighbors.


Since 2011, the Hunt School of Nursing has made a significant impact in the community by reducing the nursing shortage while graduating students with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Many of our students are first-generation and nontraditional, with an average age of 27. Hunt School of Nursing students often have challenging family responsibilities, sometimes as the sole financial provider and head of the household. As of January 2023, about 73% of Hunt School of Nursing students received some form of financial aid, with 75% of the student body eligible for aid. In 2022, 90% of students were eligible for financial aid and 89% received some form of assistance.



The year-long celebration of the school’s 10th anniversary came to a close in May 2022 at the sold-out Cirque de Corazón event. Cirque de Corazón and other fundraising events throughout the year brought in $1.876 million for nursing student scholarships, thanks to the generosity of our supporters from the community. The dollars raised by our community represent a pathway for our nursing students to chart a new course of economic stability for themselves and their families.


Together with our community supporters, we are ensuring a healthier future for everyone here in our Borderplex.


 
 

YOU CAN HELP


At TTUHSC El Paso, we are committed to growing our own health care heroes and changing the state of health care in our Borderplex. For more information about how you can help, please contact andrea.tawney@ttuhsc.edu or craig.holden@ttuhsc.edu or visit ttuhscep.edu/elpaso/ia/giving/.

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