Like Mother Like Daughter: ACC nursing students keep it in the family

Marie and Catalina Nursing Students

A mother and daughter duo are making a career in nursing a family affair. Marie Valerio and Catalina Arellano are taking their next steps after finishing up their respective programs at Austin Community College District (ACC). 

"I am the first nurse in my family. Most everyone else is a pastor or teacher," says Marie, an ACC Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) graduate. "In a weird way, nursing requires teaching. I do a lot of that in my career, and it's one of my favorite things."

"I love nursing because my mom loved nursing. When I was a kid, I experienced it with her. Most people think it's just taking care of patients, but it is so honoring to be there to help someone in their most vulnerable state," says Marie’s daughter, Catalina, an ACC Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) student.

Marie's journey started at ACC more than 20 years ago. However, as often happens, life got in the way, and she had to take a break. She returned a few times and finally in 2011 to complete the LVN program in 2014. Since then, Marie has gone on to complete her Registered Nurse degree and is working on her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

"I started and stopped many times. When I came back, I was about to be divorced with four kids. We had huge bills, were on food stamps, and about to lose our house. I was drowning when one of my advisors told me about Capital Idea. They came in and took that financial burden off me of paying for school or supporting my kids. I didn't have to worry about tuition, books, gas," says Marie. "I knew I needed to finish my degree. Nursing was always the goal. It just took me a little longer than most." 

Her daughter, Catalina, who watched her mom start and stop, laid out a plan to complete her degree this August. 

"Seeing what my mom went through made me want to make different choices. I knew in my last semester of high school I wanted to do nursing. I have been around nursing a long time," says Catalina. "Seeing my mom start and stop just made me realize life happens. ACC is very flexible with that. The professors are understanding. I didn't have a concrete plan, but knew ACC was a great place to start." 

Catalina experienced what ACC had to offer at a very young age. She tagged along while her mom went to class and worked in the lab. 

"My professors knew exactly who I was when I walked in," says Catalina. 

"I had a job in the lab for a while, where we would switch out parts of the mannequin for different lessons and procedures. Cat would come with me and torture these poor ladies working," says Marie. "It's cool to remember her as a little kid running around Eastview Campus while I was studying for exams. She's an adult now, and my instructors are now her instructors."

Those instructors, both mom and daughter say, play a significant role in student success during their educational journey at ACC and their careers.

"The professors keep cheering you on, even after graduation. They become your friends, colleagues, and someone you can count on if you need a letter, reference, or just support," says Marie. 

For both mother and daughter, ACC is the right choice to meet your educational needs and career goals.

"Right after high school, you need to find yourself. I got smacked in the face. Life doesn't stop, and being able to find your ground close to home is super important. You can do that at ACC. The students and teachers are super friendly. 

"Now that I'm a nurse who can hire, I always look for those ACC resumes. I know they're going to get the skills that I expect. There are a lot of colleges in town, and others give students a business management background. That is great for nurses behind the desk, but I want those with hands-on experience," says Marie. 

But that doesn't mean mom will be welcoming daughter on to her staff.

"I am Cat's biggest cheerleader. But I'm a clinic nurse, and I see my daughter jumping into the emergency room and saving lives. She has so much ahead of her, and I can't wait to see what she becomes," says Marie. 

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