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ASU alumna returns to college with a new purpose

ASU Online Student Claudia Becerril poses in her nursing school scrubs. The ASU alumna is enrolled in the CEP, a unique program where she completes her hands-on clinical work at a community college - while at the same time taking baccalaureate-level coursework online at ASU.

The path to finding your true passion looks different for everyone. For Claudia Becerril, it began with an interest in health and a desire to help.

She found a way to combine those two things when she attended Arizona State University the first time, majoring in Global Health and Psychology.

“As part of my program, I studied abroad in Guatemala and became interested in diabetes research and education. Later on, as part of the Honors College Experience, I was privileged to travel to Venice, Italy to present on Health and Quality of Life at the International Society for the Quality of Life Studies,” Becerril said. 

During the course of her undergraduate experience, her enthusiasm for public health work and the overall wellbeing of communities only continued to grow. She interned at the ASU Obesity Solutions Initiative and worked at the ASU America Reads programs.

“In these programs, I learned about the effect that one’s nutrition, physical activity, and socioeconomic status can have on our health, and how both nutrition and academic education can make such a large impact. It was amazing to see the effect someone like me could make on the lives of others,” explained Becerril. 

The Barrett Honors student went on to graduate and start work but quickly realized something was off.

“I wanted to be able to make a bigger difference, and have more participation within a care team. So when I was thinking about this I realized that all of the things I was interested in while doing my undergrad, I can do as a nurse and that’s when it all clicked,” she said.

Back to school

Her aha moment led her to the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation Concurrent Enrollment Program, which was the best fit for her. The program is unique because Becerril will complete her hands-on clinical work at a community college - while at the same time taking baccalaureate-level coursework completely online at ASU to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. 

This isn’t her first experience with ASU Online, but it is her first time taking exclusively online classes for a program.

“I’m familiar with the setup of online courses at ASU, and I really like the support that I’ve been able to receive. The online success coaching program makes a big difference,” she said.

In addition, Becerril says the expectations of each class are clearly shared as are the due dates for all of the assignments right upfront. 

Helping to make her feel even more comfortable, the fact that professors make themselves available to students, even more so she says than in her previous experience taking classes online.

Connecting IRL

But don’t let the online platform’s ease of use fool you. It is still a rigorous curriculum on top of her traditional nursing school courses at the community college. Add to that the fact that Becerril works full-time and is trying to balance the other aspects of her life and it can easily become overwhelming.

“There are days where it does feel like a lot. The one thing that has been very helpful is that there are other students going through the same thing. So remembering that I’m not alone and knowing that I have such an amazing support system with my family has been huge.”

In fact, she says connecting with her classmates in the program has been a great relief. From casually chatting about the various assignments to sharing the feelings they’re all going through, she says it has all made a difference.

Within the program, there’s some empathy as well. Becerril says her professors online are cognizant of the fact that this is not an easy path they’re on.

“They acknowledge nursing school is very challenging and intense and there is a level of understanding that some of us are working as well. So, the constant communication is reassuring because I never have to wonder when something is due or what is expected of me.”

This frees up her time to focus on learning, something Becerril is especially grateful for. 

“I was raised by a single mom, who brought my brother and me here from Mexico. So being able to pursue my dream of attaining an education hasn’t always been easy but it’s something I’m extremely devoted to.”

Ultimately, Becerril says she wants to earn the “credentials and credibility” to provide bedside care along with treatment and education to all different kinds of patients.