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Our Nurse of the Week is Dana Lopes, a nursing instructor at the College of Saint Elizabeth who overcame growing up in poverty in rural Indiana and became the first high school graduate in her family before continuing on to nursing school.

Lopes was born in rural Indiana and raised in a trailer with no heat, no air conditioning, and barely enough beds for her family. Yet she became the first in her family to graduate from high school. She is now a nursing instructor and staff member at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morris Township.

Lopes tells morristowngreen.com, “There was a time I had to sleep on plywood with just a blanket on it. I would always hear murmurings about my family and how I was never going to amount to anything….I want to be the role model for my students that I had when I was in school, because maybe I’m the only one they have in their life.”

Even though the odds were against her in a family who lived more than 15 percent below the poverty level, Lopes decided her life was going to be different from the way she grew up. A tumultuous upbringing with exposure to her father’s incarceration, domestic violence and substance abuse at home, ultimately inspired Lopes to pursue her education.

Realizing in middle school that an education was the only way out of her situation, Lopes joined every club and sport she could to keep herself away from home, and when she was at home, she locked herself away in her room in the trailer to read her textbooks until she fell asleep.

Eventually Lopes’ teachers became her role models and with their guidance Lopes earned admission to Purdue University with a fully paid scholarship. She has since earned several post-graduate certificates and nursing degrees. Now she wants her students to know that they have the power to fight for what they want and create their own opportunities.

To learn more about Dana Lopes, a nursing instructor at the College of Saint Elizabeth who overcame growing up in poverty and became the first high school graduate in her family before continuing on to nursing school, visit here.

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