Chelsea Medina is a college student who is anxious to walk the stage for graduation today, January 5th.
Taking a peek into all that led up to this day:
The start of her days leading up to this day had been prepared the night before as she set her alarm clock earlier than the wake-up time. The point of this is to mentally persuade herself that when she presses snooze, she’s actually getting more sleep. The struggle is real.
Her day begins at 5:30 a.m. after the snooze button has run out of patience and it’s finally time for her to wake up. What used to be a morning ritual to wake up and express her gratitude to God for another day, turned into hopes for more sleep, then an eagerness to get up and out to start her day; Coffee is a must.
“I grab a medium coffee right before I walk through the doors of my college,” said Medina. “Mostly for the sake of others because I’m not a nice person without coffee.”
Medina walks out of her house around 6:20 a.m. to catch the X12 bus at 6:30 a.m. in Staten Island. And so the journey to the Manhattan begins.
There’s no wasting time for Medina. Each opportunity to study is taken advantage of. From the 40-minute express bus ride to downtown manhattan to the five minutes commute on the four or five train to downtown Brooklyn.
She currently attends The New York City College of Technology and couldn't contain her excitement knowing graduation is approaching. A feeling that is ultimately fulfilling, receiving her Associates for her Registered Nursing degree.
“I could think of a million reasons why I was inspired to become a nurse,” said Medina. “The biggest inspiration of them of all is that I truly believe it is what God has put in my heart and blessed me with the passion for.”
Some people have a love to do things with no background story. That’s not the case for Medina. When her mother was pregnant with her, she had an incident in her apartment building. Medina’s mother was pushed down the stairs by a police officer while they were in pursuit of chasing someone else.
The result was a broken back and the risk that surgery would have on her pregnancy. Doctors told her mother that it would be best to abort Medina so that she could receive necessary treatment. Her mother was also told that Medina would have long-term intellectual disabilities from the x-ray exposure.
“Fast forward 24 years later and here I am, fully intellectually competent,” said Medina. “So I guess the true answer, my inspiration is her, Christine Lee. My mom, my hero and my backbone.”
Medina is what some would label a nerd. Her determination and drive to succeed in all that she does is evident. She pulls out a binder full of notes and sheets torn from her textbook. Highlights and colorful stickie notes pop out from several pages, in such an organized fashion.
With her coffee in hand and textbook spread out across her desk, Medina focuses on the words that the professor lectures within the three-hour time span. Effortlessly perfecting the skill of note-taking. The school day may end after class, but not for Medina and her colleagues.
A recount of coursework and supportive discussions happen over lunch at a nearby restaurant.
When Medina isn’t studying for school, which appears to be rare, she binge watches television stations like Discovery Fit and the Health channel.
“Growing up I was always interested in science and would often find myself bingeing on Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes and the Discovery Fit and Health channel,” said Medina. “I still find myself bingeing on TV series like ‘Trauma life in the E.R.,’ ‘N.Y. E.R’ and related medical shows.”
Caring for other people is not a skill that can be taught. It has to be a natural feeling on the inside. For Medina, she is sure that it gives her an overwhelming feeling of joy and fulfillment. She talks about an incident that occurred in Staten Island, with no attempts to restrain the tears that fall from her eyes. Eric Garner, who was killed because of police brutality, hits home for her and reminds her of God’s grace on her very own life.
Downtown Brooklyn is known for its clothing stores and small dining spots. As she walks into Shake Shack, she recalls a difficult time during her second semester in school. She was becoming a nursing student who came to that point, only to fail.
“We received the grades for our Respiratory system exam, it was the worst grade I have ever received in my life,” said Medina, followed by a relief of overcoming that obstacle. “I couldn’t understand how I had come so far and overcame the many years of hurdles to gain acceptance into the nursing program and here I was, a failing nursing student.”
The joy in Medina’s eyes showcased a sparkle because she is no longer in the position of doubt. During that time, she began to question herself, her knowledge and was sure that she would fail out of the program. Failure was lingering over her head at the time.
It was the honesty of a former professor, Ms. Garafalo, who inquired about her grade on the exam. Medina, overly emotional, broke down in tears and expressed that she failed. Something that was challenging for her to reveal. Without expecting it, Garafalo rekindled Medina’s passion and she went on the pass with flying colors.
“Don’t you for one second let these other professors lead you to believe they know everything, or graduated nursing school with straight A’s,” Professor Garafolo said as she comforted Medina. “It is the students who struggle their way through that leave nursing school and go on to become the best nurses.”
On a day that Medina is off from school, she wakes up around 7 a.m. and begins reading until distraction approaches. There’s a specific tactic that Medina takes when it comes to studying. Something that she has had to teach herself through experience.
Whether it’s doing practice questions or reading nursing review books, she remains focused until she hits a roadblock. Without applying any pressure to continue, she gives herself an hour of time to watch TV or take a warm shower.
“I conclude my study session by calling one of my colleagues to discuss the material,” said Medina. “So we can combine our knowledge and enlighten each other on the areas we lack.”
Medina hopes to celebrate after being pinned and accomplishing her goal. Upon completion of school and passing state board exams, Medina hopes to settle comfortably in the emergency department or maternity unit at a hospital.
For Medina, she’s been able to witness some of her colleagues in the nursing program who experience and overcome some terrible situations.
“Other nursing students inspire me,” said Medina. “I have witnessed many colleagues overcome the worst things imaginable during our journey together and their resilience to overcome them and push through gives me daily inspiration.”
Congratulations to Chelsea Medina on her pinning day!