Belinda AtienzoRegistered Nurse
My name is Belinda Atienzo. I am from El Paso Texas, born and raised in the downtown area, also known as Segundo Barrio. Before Project ARRIBA, I graduated top ten percent of my class at Bowie High School, and started my first semester of college at NMSU. However, due to the high cost of attending, I was forced to come back home and live with my parents. It was then that I transferred to EPCC to pursue a career in nursing.
Before Project ARRIBA, I was working as a tutor and note taker at the EPCC Center for Students with Disabilities. I would save my money so that I could pay for summer tuition, books, and school supplies. I remember taking a pharmacology class in June 2014, and was struggling to pay for all the requirements necessary to rank into the nursing program. One of my classmates told me about all the help she received through Project ARRIBA and encouraged me to apply. To my surprise, Project ARRIBA case managers were out in the cafeteria that day. I remember being at work and telling my coworker to “watch the office” so that I could run down and fill out an application.
I can never repay all the help I received from Project ARRIBA, not just financially but emotionally. Priscilla Estrada, my case manager, was an amazing support system. She was there for me throughout the entire nursing program, from start to end. The long hours required in this program did not allow me to work. However, Project ARRIBA helped me pay for books, uniforms, and the supplies we had to purchase every term, which are an enormous expense. The summer before my third semester, my father became really ill. My father is one of my biggest supporters and also the sole provider of our household. This was a very devastating moment for our family, however Priscilla was there for me and my family with her words of kindness and support. At the same time this summer, the only working vehicle we had as a family was stolen. It was recovered later, but this also brought a great deal of stress. Then, in December 2016, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed as terminal and later passed. Throughout it all, Priscilla was there, always encouraging me to keep going. For this I can’t thank her enough, there are no words to describe my outermost gratitude towards her and the Project ARRIBA staff.
Graduating means providing financial security not only for myself but also for my family. My life will definitely never be the same. I look forward for this new chapter and all it will entail. My first step after graduation is to pass my NCLEX, then to start an RN to BSN program at Texas Tech University. I also would like to go back to volunteering in the Child Crisis Center as I did before nursing school. I pledge to give back to Project ARRIBA so that they may continue to help those that come after me.