In some senses, Isamar Velez Garcia was living an entrepreneur’s dream. A native of Mexico City, she studied international business and put her knowledge to work running a Mexican restaurant in Ecuador.
“I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from around the world. Some of them were sick, and I would cook healthy food for them,” she said.
But something was missing.
Business “doesn’t have the human value to it. When you’re in business, everything is about the money you’ll make,” she reflected. “I wanted to do something more meaningful.”
She decided to take the leap and return to school – this time to study nursing. Her husband, a psychotherapist originally from Manhattan, encouraged her and recommended SUNY Broome for its solid academic reputation.
“I decided to make a life change here,” said Isamar, who plans to graduate in May 2021.
Nursing is a competitive admissions program, and has indeed proved challenging. But Isamar has found experienced guides, and particularly enjoys Professor Rosanne West for her humor and encouragement.
“I found that having the opportunity to learn from experienced nurses, who are my teachers, inspires me to learn,” she said.
Professor Lucy Harkness in the English Department is also a favorite. “She is the best English teacher I have ever had, and I’ve been studying English since I was 6 years old,” Isamar said.
Outside of the classroom, she helps her fellow Hornets as a tutor in Spanish. She is also a member of the International Student Organization, which allows her to forge connections with fellow students from around the globe. It’s a relief to know that you’re “not the only strange person,” she said.
Long-term, she is interested in pursuing a career in psychiatric nursing, perhaps returning to Latin America to make a difference in the communities there.
“In Latin America, there are not a lot of resources for that population,” she said, noting that mental illness is often viewed in a derogatory way, as “craziness.” She would like to change that.
For now, she is enjoying her SUNY Broome experience.
“There are lots of learning opportunities out there,” she said. “I love this environment. People are very friendly. I really like this school.”