Since enrolling in the nursing program at NOVA’s Medical Education Campus (MEC), Fabiola Astorga has anticipated receiving her associate degree in May 2017 to enhance her career in healthcare. With help from NOVA instructors and staff, she feels confident to enter the workforce as a highly-trained maternity nurse.
A native of Peru, at age 10 Astorga moved to the United States with her mother. With English being her second language, Astorga would visit the MEC’s Academic Success Tutoring Center twice a week to study and receive additional help with course assignments. Nannette Tucker, a former tutor and MEC respiratory therapy program student, would assist Astorga with proper English grammar usage and preparing for the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), an aptitude test required for admittance into the nursing program. Astorga scored in the high 90’s on the TEAS and was accepted into the MEC’s Nursing program in Nov. 2015.
“I wasn’t the best test taker in high school, and I knew at some point I had to overcome my fear of testing, especially if I wanted to enroll in the nursing program at the MEC,” Astorga said. “I wasn’t good at math either, but now I feel confident because of the hours I spent at the tutoring center. Nannette really motivated me to continue practicing and studying to overcome my testing phobia.”
Astorga realized she wanted to become a nurse while caring for her mother who battled cancer until her death in 2008, and helping with her disabled brother. The legacy of her mother only fueled her passion to want to help others and graduate from college. Now, as a mother to a 4-year old son, Astorga balances being a full-time NOVA student and working in the maternity unit at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge. Continuing her education became difficult at times, but with help from MEC nursing instructors Brenda Clark and Dorothea Johnson, Astorga feels she found the motivation she needed.
“I’ve had great motivational instructors throughout my entire time at NOVA, especially with Ms. Clark as my fundamentals teacher. I love her passion for teaching and she would always take the time to meet with me after class to make sure I understood my assignments,” Astorga said. “During my first year as a nursing student, Ms. Johnson would help me with clinical instruction and I really appreciated her advice and guidance. NOVA’s nursing program has the best reputation because of instructors like them. I’ve heard people say if you are a NOVA nurse then you must a great nurse.”
After graduating from NOVA, Astorga plans to transfer to George Mason University to complete her bachelor of science degree in nursing.
“I’ve had so many challenges throughout my life to the point that I didn’t think graduation day would come. But I was determined to give myself and my son a better future,” Astorga said. “My advice to any student pursuing a degree, especially in the medical profession, is to stay focused and you can do anything you set your mind to.”
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.