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Student Spotlight

April 2012 Stellar Student - Jennifer Hidalgo: "Health is Everyone's Right!"

Jennifer HidalgoJennifer Hidalgo is a senior nursing student at Alverno College of Nursing, Milwaukee. She has an unmistakable air of confidence, enthusiasm and joy. Her passion for nursing is fueled by her inner drive to improve health and wellness in herself and others. Jennifer is prepared and eager to be a leader for the future of nursing.

Jennifer’s interest in health and wellness started early in her life.  She remembers being overweight at 234 lbs. throughout her childhood and young adult years. “I am very proud of losing over 100 lbs., reaching my goal weight and regaining my health. I did it the natural way, with a balanced diet and exercise.  Since that time I feel transformed, like a better person. This is the story I tell others with the message of, “Never give up, it will not be easy, but it can be done.  Health and a healthy body are inside everyone. Health is everyone’s right!”

     She recalls the inspiration to overcome obstacles from her father, who at the age of 10, immigrated to the United States from Costa Rico. He was able to find his own potential in spite of poverty, prejudice, language obstacles and daily hurdles. He became the first generation college graduate within his family.

     Throughout her childhood, Jennifer was surrounded by a family circle of service to the community.  Living with her father, Javier, a respiratory therapist and her mother, Jill, a registered nurse, Jennifer witnessed their ability to help others daily through their work and service to healthcare. Jennifer realized that she too had a strong interest in health, science and helping others. Soon, she found herself pursuing a nursing career.

     Jennifer credits Alverno College of Nursing to be her catalyst in realizing her potential, “Alverno has helped me become who I wanted to be. I have learned to reach beyond being adequate, to strive for excellence and give back to others. Alverno is all about finding oneself and engaging your gifts in the community. I believe in promoting health and helping people help each other.”

     Jennifer has not only heard the message, she lives the message. Last year, she and her faculty mentor, Sarah Arvelo established the Hispanic Nurses of Alverno, a student group offering guidance, support and resources to Hispanic nursing students.   “I know and see the struggle of Hispanic students, who are often first generation college students. College is rigorous and hard work.  It is all-consuming at times. It is easy to lose one self and not have a balance of life and school. In addition, we (Hispanic students) continue to meet barriers including limited Hispanic mentors, beliefs that college is too hard and that we are not smart or strong enough to make it through college. Our Hispanic Nurses of Alverno group is there to help each other learn and reach our potential. We want to thrive, not just survive, through college. Our mission is also to promote health in the community.” In their first year, the group has held blood pressure clinics, taught children about healthy eating, and helped women learn about breast health by participating In Mexican Fiesta, Wisconsin Latino Health Exposition, and the Racine Jane Cramer Breast Health Event.

     Jennifer sees her path in nursing as health promotion. “Too often, nursing and nurses view our profession as care of the sick. I really saw a different perspective when I cared for a 19 year old male with Lupus. He was seriously ill and yet he did not see himself as a sick person.  He was a young man with goals, hobbies, interests and a very healthy self-image.  His glass was more than half full, not at all half empty, because of Lupus. Maybe it was then, that I remembered, everyone has a potential for health.”

     Jennifer is primed and ready for meeting the Future of Nursing Campaign for Action challenges. She is eager to practice nursing to her full extent in the area of primary care: health & wellness. She intends to return to graduate school and most likely pursue an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner role.  She has already taken the helm as a leader of nurses within Alverno.  And she is driven to help diversify the workforce by supporting other Hispanic student nurses. “I know how important it is to have Hispanic nurses available to care for Hispanic communities.  I have witnessed the hardships of families with limited or no access to healthcare. I see their fear in seeking health care. There is sometimes a sense of shame about illness and especially mental health problems among Hispanic communities. Trust is needed and often sought by seeking healthcare settings with Hispanic nurses and staff.”

     “I look forward to starting as a registered nurse; there are so many possibilities within the field of nursing. I also look forward to rediscovering nature, enjoying playing my guitar, reading and finding other ways to balance life with my passion for nursing.  I think I’m ready.”
Indeed, you are, Jennifer!

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