As a nurse, Monica Arreola knows how it feels to help someone. That's why she wanted to give back to the school that helped her become one.
She and four other West Coast University graduates recently took part in a casual panel discussion with a room full of bachelor of science in nursing students.
"I came to the graduate panel today to tell students about my experience and how I got through it, what helped me and what didn't, just so they can learn from us and make this journey a little easier for them, if possible," Arreola said.
Now working at Children’s Hospital Orange County in the neuroscience unit, Arreola recalled when she attended grad panels as a student at WCU-Orange County.
"I remember looking at them and saying 'I want to do that one day and I will never be there!'" she said, "so it's cool now being in that position to be able to help another student out."
Tip 1: Use what’s available
Arreola's advice to student was to maximize what the school offers.
"I feel like I didn't utilize my resources too much here and I wish I would have," Arreola said. "I was telling students that I didn't use the Career Services team until my last term and I wish I would have gone in there, spoke to them earlier so we could have built that relationship."
She also regretted not using the library's staff and assets more.
"They're great at supporting students. They don't leave anybody behind. It's not like, 'Hey, go figure it out yourself.' There's always someone to talk to," she said. "You can just walk into any office, any professor, so it's really good that professors always had that open-door office hours and were very approachable."
Tip 2: It doesn’t hurt to apply — and be patient
After working hard to complete nursing school, Tracy Skinner wanted to see where she stacked up against other recent grads.
She knew her resume might not be as impressive as some, but Skinner also knew her competitive spirit could take her far.
"I want students to not second-guess themselves, to not think that you're not good enough to do something, because I didn't have the volunteer work, I didn't have the skills working as a CNA," Skinner said. "I was just a normal person and I applied and I got my dream job."
Skinner, who graduated in August 2016, will begin working at UCLA Ronald Reagan in the Operating Room training program in April. She also wanted to remind students that applications aren't processed and approved overnight. Skinner said she applied to her program six months in advance and it took more than a month to learn she had been accepted.
"They have a very long application process," she said.
Tip 3: Seeing (and feeling) is believing
Melanie Turnbough first heard about West Coast University when she was studying to become a vocational nurse.
Her VN instructor had graduated from WCU and recommended the school for anyone wanting to get a BSN. Turnbough wanted to be an RN and trusted her instructor but knew she had to visit the campus herself.
“I went in and I spoke with them and it was an immediate click. It's a feeling, and I recommend it to anybody. If you're choosing any campus or job, go with the way it makes you feel. Don't just go off of what someone says — check it out yourself,” Trunbough said.