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Our Nurse of the Week is Maria Elena Valdez, a first-generation community health worker who is preparing to graduate from nursing school at the end of this year and embark on her career as a nurse.

Valdez was born in Eagle Pass, Texas to seasonal immigrant workers from Coahulla, Mexico. She traveled between Mexico and the US with her parents when she was young while her father worked in Wisconsin fields in the summers and then took his family to Mexico each winter when the work season ended. Her parents had a better plan for her future so they eventually settled in San Antonio, which now feels like home to Valdez.

During her junior of high school, Valdez started volunteering for the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Pathway to Health Professions program, which is housed under the Policy Studies Center within the UTSA College of Public Policy. She earned her associate’s degree from Northeast Lakeview College and enrolled at UTSA in fall 2017 where she studied to earn her certification as a community health worker. She can now practice in the field while she works to obtain her bachelor’s degree.

Valdez is currently leveraging her Community Health Worker certification at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio where she counsels emergency room patients so that they leave the hospital with better awareness of the resources available to them at home. She will graduate from UTSA in December with her Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health from the College of Education and Human Development.

Miguel Bedolla, the director of the UTSA Health Career Opportunity Program, tells utsa.edu, “Maria Elena is absolutely committed to serving the population of San Antonio, she has already been certified by the State of Texas as a Community Health Worker through the Pathways to Health Professions Program, she is one of the best students in the program and is unwaveringly committed to be an excellent nursing professional.”

To learn more about Maria Elena Valdez, a first-generation community health worker who is preparing to graduate from nursing school at the end of this year and embark on her career as a nurse, visit here

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