Nurse of the Week: Recent Graduate Bianca de Leon Overcame Hardship to Pursue Military Nursing Career
Our Nurse of the Week is Bianca de Leon, a recent graduate of Penn State University’s nursing program and a commissioned officer in the US Navy Nurse Corps. De Leon emigrated from the Philippines at 5 years old with her father who wanted his family to start a new life in the United States. Now seventeen years later, de Leon has overcome many hardships to pursue her dream career in nursing.
“Despite my upbringing, I flourished because my teachers believed in me, my family pushed me, and this country gave an immigrant family a chance to prove themselves.”
De Leon’s family suffered many hardships when she was younger. She was 13 when her mother and younger brother were finally approved to join her father and the rest of their family in the US. Then she began her first job at 15 years old while also taking Advanced Placement classes and participating in sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. Exhausted by all that she took on, de Leon thought she would always feel that way.
After mentoring an elementary school student with behavioral issues and working in a retirement home where she observed the nursing staff taking care of the residents, de Leon realized that she wanted to pursue a career where she could interact with people and help make changes to improve their lives.
Inspired by her older brother, de Leon decided to apply for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). She tells News.PSU.edu, “I became interested because they had nursing scholarships. At the time I wasn’t thinking that I wanted to pursue a military career. I knew that I needed to go to nursing school and this was a way that I would be able to do it.”
De Leon received a Naval ROTC scholarship to Penn State and was accepted into their four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing. She graduated in Spring 2017 as a commissioned officer in the US Navy Nurse Corps and in July she passed the exam to become a licensed registered nurse. Shortly after, she set out for her first duty station at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in northern Virginia.
De Leon credits her achievements to the supportive environment she grew up in. She tells News.PSU.edu, “Despite my upbringing, I flourished because my teachers believed in me, my family pushed me, and this country gave an immigrant family a chance to prove themselves.”