Success Stories


Bertha ContrerasRegistered Nurse (BSN)

My name is Bertha Lorena Contreras and I am a Project ARRIBA graduate. I was born in Cd. Juarez and was raised in San Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico. While in Mexico, I completed two semesters of college, married, and had three sons. I decided to come to the states when my marriage ended.

Leaving my hometown was scary for me and my children but I wanted to give my boys a better life. Once in El Paso, I worked as a secretary for a telecommunications company. I also enrolled in ESL classes at EPCC attending school on weekends. It was difficult but I was fueled with a desire for more so I studied hard. I started my first year of basics and paid for my classes on installment payments. By this time, I was on a work study program at EPCC tutoring other students in biology but also pregnant with my fourth child; money was tight. I heard of Project ARRIBA from a student and applied for assistance. I was accepted into the program.

I met my first Case Manger Rose Bonar. She was full of energy and was always quick to help even with my limited English speaking ability. Working, raising a family as a single parent, attending class, and finding time to study was difficult. However, Rose along with other case managers and staff helped me get through the next few challenging years while in the nursing program. In fact, Case Manager, Herminia “Mimi” Duran was a constant ear for me when I felt overwhelmed. Project ARRIBA, not only provided me with constant encouragement, but also the financial support I needed with tuition, day care, and other assistance I needed to get through the school.

I am proud to tell you, I graduated with honors, Spring 2008 with my bachelor’s degree in nursing. In addition, I was blessed one more time when my story was told by Dr. Diana Natalicio, UTEP President at our commencement ceremony. I was 42 years old.

I believe I have been a positive role model for my children. My two older boys have worked hard to attend school and start their own business. My youngest son will start college soon and my daughter, age 13, is setting goals to become a doctor. I couldn’t have succeeded at my own goals without Project ARRIBA’s support.

For the last nine years, I worked at the intensive care unit at Sierra Medical Center. During that time, I received my certification as critical care registered nurse by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Here I able to provide care to the most critical patients.
Four years ago, I decided to return to school to become a nurse practitioner. I graduated August 2016 and now employed at The Hospitals of Providence earning over $46,000/year.

Like many others in the program, my journey was difficult but was attainable through Project ARRIBA’s support. I have realized my dream and became a nurse practitioner and provide care for many in our community who don’t have access to needed care.

Thank you for your support into this invaluable program.