Arturo Melendez went from a somewhat uncommitted high school student to being asked to be the Student Speaker at JWCC’s Commencement Ceremony in a matter of years. The mental transition Arturo underwent was partly due to his time in the armed forces, and partly due to the support he received as a student at JWCC while enrolled in the nursing program.
When Arturo Melendez was younger, he admits he wasn’t the most serious student.
“I wasn’t really dedicated to school or my studies. When I first graduated high school, I tried college but didn’t focus enough on it, so I dropped out,” said Arturo.
After his first attempt at college, Arturo joined the National Guard, heading off to basic training in February of 2014. That time in the armed forces really helped Arturo focus and get clarity on where he wanted to take his life.
“My time in the Army changed everything. My whole outlook changed. I got more motivated and wanted to be the best at everything I did. It shifted my goals.”
With a newfound commitment to excellence, the pieces of Arturo’s future started to fall together. He was placed as a medical multi-tech while in the service, which gave him his first taste of medical training. He learned how to administer CPR, EKGs and catheters, and also got a chance to work with patients spending three years in a patient rehab facility.
Arturo then got a job at the ER in Cedar Rapids and fell in love with the medical field. The fast-paced environment of the ER was exactly what Arturo had been looking for in a career.
“It’s never the same thing every day. I didn’t want a job that was like wake-up, repeat, go home. Working in the ER is exciting, and I like that we are always treating different types of ailments.”
Arturo knew to advance in the medical field, he would be required to complete some type of additional education. He and his fiancé made the decision to move to Quincy and Arturo enrolled in the Associated Degree of Nursing (ADN) program at JWCC.
The ADN program prepares students for the NCLEX exam to become a Registered Nurse (RN). After earning an associate degree, nurses can choose to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing with one additional year of study through JWCC’s consortium with Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Now, two years later, Arturo has finished his credentials at JWCC and will start as a fulltime student at Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing in the fall. He is working on becoming an RN, and even secured a paid internship as an RN in the ER in at Blessing in Quincy to supplement his experience. Arturo was recruited for the internship during one of his nursing classes at JWCC.
“I am really looking forward to this internship because it is the exact job that I want when I graduate. It will be way different than when I was a tech, and I will get a real feel for what the job actually entails,” said Arturo. “Even if I don’t like the experience, it will be good because it will give me insight to make sure I am on the right career path.”
These experiences were what led Arturo to being selected as the Student Speaker in John Wood’s 2022 Commencement Ceremony.
“At first I was going to walk in the graduation ceremony, because I am still going on with my education. But then Courtney Loos, [Assistant to the Dean of Students] called to tell me I had been nominated to deliver a speech at the ceremony. After I was given that honor, I decided to go all in and just go for it.”
Arturo delivered remarks to nearly 1000 attendees. Many members of his family, including fiancé and young son, were in attendance to see this achievement.
Now that he is officially graduated from JWCC with his LPN, Arturo remains happy with his choices. When asked if he would recommend JWCC’s nursing program, Arturo didn’t hesitate.
“Absolutely, I would recommend JWCC’s nursing program. I have looked into a lot of nursing programs, and I am really glad I went with JWCC. They are really good about working with you. I have heard about other programs that are very strict and don’t give you any leeway. Here, the instructors are very sympathetic. I applied for school in March of last year and I got in the very next semester that they were offering the program. That surprised me. I thought I would have to wait and I was impressed with how fast I was able to move. It feels like just yesterday that I was considering school, and now here I am with my LPN certificate.”