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Nighthawk’s Path to Nursing Started with His Computer Business

Nighthawk’s Path to Nursing Started with His Computer Business

May is National Nurses Month, and NOVA is spotlighting one of our amazing Nursing students. Meet Jaime Alvarenga. He can testify that you never know where life will take you. Jaime is very passionate about his future in nursing, but when he graduated from high school, he was on a much different course—he  was an entrepreneur running a computer business.

Jaime tells the story of how he dramatically changed direction from a career in computers to a career in nursing. He may be new to the Medical Education Campus (MEC) but not to NOVA. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:
My background is in healthcare administration. After graduating high school, I was an entrepreneur doing web development, coding, etc. About a year or two after high school, I had my own business in web development.

But I got recruited to implement electronic health records. I love learning and doing new things, so I said yes since it was just a side project; and I ended up loving it. Once I became proficient at it, I got into the business aspect of healthcare. It was a learning experience for me in terms of the healthcare process. Working with the doctors and nurses and seeing their whole workflow was very interesting.

After ten years, I was trying to find a different job. I would often get declined because I didn't have my degree, even though I had the experience. That's when I decided to go back to NOVA. I had a choice to stay in my current field, IT, or go toward healthcare. I love helping people. And as far as being more hands-on, I love the hands-on aspect, so I chose nursing, and now I'm here at the MEC and in the Nursing Program.

What brought you to NOVA?
I have been at NOVA for about a year doing my prerequisites before getting accepted into the nursing program. I love NOVA, and I've taken so many different classes. Actually, I did attend NOVA after high school. At that time, I was more business oriented. It was 2001, and even though I was just one or two classes away from getting my associates in business administration, I ended up not finishing because I was too busy with work. It is interesting that on my first go-round at NOVA, I was thinking about being a doctor, but I wasn't up for ten years or more of school.

What are you studying at NOVA?
I'm looking to graduate from the Nursing program in May 2024 with my associate of science in nursing. I've done clinicals; one was at a child development center, and the next one is at a correctional facility. So that'll be interesting.

For right now, the first step in nursing is to sit for the RN. Once I graduate from here, then I can sit for the state licensing exam, the RN exam. You can have your degree, but to have the RN title, you have to pass the exam. After that, I'll work toward my BSN. I can do that part-time while working.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met. 
I've been here at the MEC for several months. So, this is a whole different environment. The MEC is different from the other campuses where I took classes. They all have a different feel. They're all pretty. I've always had really great professors, so I've been lucky about that.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA to study nursing?
You won't have time for a social life. I mean, you get windows of opportunity to go out and see your friends again. Right after a test on a Friday, I'll have the weekend off to enjoy myself. But then, I have to start prepping for class again. Plus, I have to make sure I remember everything that I've already learned. It's definitely repetition as far as learning everything.

All my friends understand. I'm like; I don't have time. I'll see you guys after the semester. They all understand that it's pretty rigorous.

I had to learn some things on my own, like what to focus on and what not to focus on. I had to learn how to study for nursing school because the old ways of studying did not work.

Get plenty of sleep, and don't try to over-study. Making sure you let your brain rest is a big thing because I tried to binge study when I first started, which didn't work. Also, either getting to sleep early or, if it's not sinking in, go to sleep, wake up and try again in the morning.

Some people will get into nursing for stable and good pay. But you have to love it. If not, then I don't know how they're going to do it.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.