Persistent Arevalo Finds Self, Passions
“I lived the majority of my childhood being told I would never achieve anything,” said Nashville State Nursing student Elizabeth Arevalo, a New Jersey native.
The happily married mother of three recently was awarded a $1,000 Sam H. Odom Nursing Scholarship, established by the Sam H. Odom Foundation Trust through the Tennessee Board of Regents.
“Being told, ‘I’m proud of you,’ is daunting to me. I sometimes have to look behind to make sure it is me they are talking to. I honestly did not expect it and I cried when I received the email, it was amazing.”
Eli has overcome a lot in life to get to this point. Growing up in foster care, she was abused and dropped out of school in 7th grade due to the lack of support, guidance, and motivation. She married very young to a much older man, who was not kind.
Mustering the courage to leave that bad situation, her journey continued over several years, eventually bringing her to Nashville. She took and passed the HiSET. Having earned a state-issued high school equivalency credential, Arevalo worked as a volunteer at the Sexual Assault Center, where she advised victims of assault to get an education.
“The only way to help yourself get out of a bad situation and to care for your children is by empowering yourself.”
While volunteering, she had to undergo a kidney transplant. During this time the seeds of taking care of others as a career began taking root.
“I met other patients who seemed lost and did not understand the process. When that happens, a patient will make decisions based on fear rather than knowledge. I saw the language barrier as being one of those problems. If you can't understand your options, you will make the decision that seems the easiest and not necessarily the best.”
Taking her own advice, Eli applied and was accepted into Nashville State’s Nursing program.
“I picked the Nursing program because I heard it has the best reputation. The nurses that come out of there are fully prepared.”
“I have learned that having an education and something of your own is extremely empowering.”
Eli is set to graduate in May 2023. Her ultimate goal is to become a forensic nurse, which Nashville has very few of.
“I have a year of patient care before I can become a forensic nurse, and in that time and long after, I will advocate for more bilingual people in the nursing world.”
Arevalo embodies all that is good about being a Nashville State Falcon.
“Heck, maybe one day I’ll be an instructor at Nashville State helping people like me.”