Posted: December 18, 2018
“The umbrella of nursing extends so wide that one of the beauties of it is you are always learning,” says Erika Ventura-Castellon, December BSN graduate.
Ventura-Castellon is an alumna with a desire to make a difference not just in the lives of her patients but also entire populations. One eye-opening experience in particular was completing clinical hours at the Fayette County Detention Center. She was one of the first students in the program to complete clinicals in the facility.
“The experience was important to me because incarcerated people often receive poor health care,” she says. “As a nurse, you can make a difference in overcoming health disparities, target changes at a population level and help change policy. It’s an important line of work that I think is often overlooked.”
Her family being from El Salvador, Ventura-Castellon was a first-generation student. Her heritage continues to fuel her passion for nursing every day.
“I didn’t think there were enough people that could provide care in both English and Spanish. I could bridge that language barrier and cultural gap. I think a lot of people in my community look up to me for that reason,” she says.
This sense of responsibility ultimately inspired Ventura-Castellon to get involved with a new organization on campus, “Leading Latinas,” that provides volunteers at Tates Creek High School to talk with young girls about attending college.
“No matter where you come from, if you have the will and desire you can achieve your nursing degree, or any degree for that matter.”
One of Ventura-Castellon’s mentors along her nursing journey has been Ana Maria Linares, DNS, RN, IBCLC, associate professor. “Seeing a Latina succeeding in this profession has really influenced and inspired me. We can share some of our culture and language,” she says.
“I’ve seen Erika grow into a passionate and knowledgeable student with great leadership skills,” says Dr. Linares. “Her richest characteristic is her compassion for others. She dedicates time to help her peers and is especially concerned about disparity and vulnerable populations with scarce opportunities.”
In the future, Ventura-Castellon hopes to return to school to earn her master’s in nursing and tie it together with her love of Spanish.