Diana Lopez has always been a natural caretaker for her family and friends but when her mother became seriously ill from Covid, it inspired her to take her gift and turn it into a career she could use.
“We knew she had a long road to recovery,” Diana said, after she had found her mother unresponsive and had to rush her to the hospital. Her mother’s illness had caused pneumonia in both her lungs and her respiratory function was dangerously low.
Diana’s mother spent 23 days in the hospital and was told when she was released that she may have to be on oxygen for the rest of her life. Diana moved in with her to care for her.
“I was young and had a bunch of questions,” she said. “I took her to her doctor’s appointments and would write down questions that I had for the doctor, medicines that I would ask if she could take. I did a lot of research to help her. I felt like that was my field, being a caretaker.”
With treatment, Diana was able to get her mother back to full health. She no longer needs to carry an oxygen tank with her where she goes. The experience left Diana wanting to do more to help others.
“I procrastinated going back to school, but I thought if I don’t do it now, I probably never will,” she said. “I was very skeptical. I lived an hour away. I was worried I wasn’t going to get the training I needed. When I stepped on the Florida Career College campus, I felt comfortable with my admissions representative. He made me feel like I could do this.”
“It was difficult in the beginning because I hadn’t been to school in so many years,” she said. “It was difficult to keep my focus on the work at home. Once I got the hang of it, I became an ambassador, never missed any of my work, had perfect attendance. I made honor roll, ambassador, and perfect attendance throughout the whole time.”
“Diana was one of my top students,” said Debra Ray, Diana’s instructor. “Everything she has done she has just exceeded my expectations… She was always the first one to come to me. I never had to ask her for help—she was always just willing to do it. She’s the type of leader that just led by example.”
When it came time for her externship, Diana took the initiative in finding a site close to her home, out in the country. The experience was worth the effort.
“It has been an amazing experience, especially being in the externship,” she said. “There’s still a lot to learn. The doctors I’ve worked with, they are still learning. There is so much out there to learn, and I love it.”
After graduation Diana plans to work as a Medical Assistant for a few years but she wants to work with dialysis patients and someday go back to school to become a nurse. If caring for her mother taught her anything, it’s to not wait to fulfill your dreams.
“No hesitation, you’ve just got to go for it and break the ice,” she said. “Work diligently. Read everything diligently… Use all their resources the school gives you to the fullest and you can do it too.”