Filipino-Asian singing star, Claire Cee, otherwise known as Carol Banawa, has had a long career in the music industry spanning decades. She started singing at eight years old and was discovered during a children’s contest. She signed with her first record company IVORY Records in Manila at 13. Then from 1997 until 2003, she joined Star Records and did several albums and singles with them. The Filipino singer is well known for her hits “Tanging Yaman,” “Bakit Di Totohanin” and “Iingatan Ka.”
She has represented the Philippines in several ‘Eurovision Asia’ singing competitions, including one in Shanghai where she received a silver medal. She has also done several American Theater Company performances in Singapore, appearing in “Ben Hur” for three months.
She has toured all over Asia, the United States and Australia. Still to this day, she has over 100,000 followers who remember her for her fame, but love her all the same for her current career choice.
Currently living in Northern Virginia with her husband, Ryan and their children, Chelsea and River, when she has the time, she only does shows for the local Filipino community.
And she doesn’t have tons of time, honestly. In July 2018, Banawa became a registered nurse after graduating summa cum laude with her nursing degree from NOVA’s Medical Education Campus. She says she started at NOVA because it had the most flexible schedule for her family. Her husband is also active duty military, so it was important for her to find a program that would accommodate her family’s schedule.
Graduating from MEC gave her a sense of pride and joy; not just for herself but also for the whole group of people with whom she finished the program. She knew how hard everyone worked, studying endlessly, reading chapter after chapter just to make sure that they were all ready for exams.
“It is a mixed feeling, being in the field of nursing during these times,” said Banawa. “I am proud to say that I am part of a workforce that is making a difference and that is helping to save lives; but at the same time, there is that fear, knowing that I am a young nurse and I know that I still have a lot to learn. However, I also know that this experience will help me grow to become a better and wiser nurse.”
Things also have changed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“I just got word that I will be floating out of my home unit starting next week to train and help out other units over the next few weeks,” Banawa went on to explain. “What I would tell those interested the health field is that nursing is such a big world to be in. There are so many different things that you can be in nursing, so many different areas of specialty, and different experiences that you can be a part of. All the things you learn in school are the basic things that you will need to get your foot in the door. NEVER forget them. Every day is a learning experience. You learn different techniques and strategies from different people that you incorporate with your own. Always strive to improve yourself, your knowledge and your skills. One thing I learned in the Operating Room: never be afraid to admit that you do not know something. It is always safer and better for your patient and yourself if you are honest about what you can or cannot do. Never be afraid to admit mistakes because that is how you learn. Trust me, after a mistake, you will never do that again. Keep your head up and your eye on the prize.”
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.