For nursing student Crissy Ramos, GateWay Community College has become a meaningful and stable home away from home during her past five years on campus.
Whether it be a quiet place to study or access to a warm shower, the GateWay community has helped her through years of uncertainty, struggle and perseverance. Which is why this May, graduating with two degrees on top of the associate degree she earned in 2012 will be all the more satisfying.
Ramos, who is in the concurrent enrollment nursing program, will graduate from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s degree and from GateWay with an associate degree on the same day, leaving her to determine which ceremony to attend.
For her, the choice is easy.
“I have to go to GateWay’s graduation,” she said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. At the end of the day, GateWay has done so much for me.”
Ramos’ journey at GateWay began when she decided she needed a more secure career than cosmetology. She began taking courses at GateWay and got involved with TRiO PROSPER. She was able to go on a tour of NAU, and that is when she decided the concurrent enrollment program was right for her.
“It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she said. “I don’t go to the gym anymore. I don’t eat healthy anymore, which is just not me. But it’s just something I’ve had to sacrifice because it’s hard to juggle work, NAU, GateWay, a boyfriend and family.”
Ramos got involved with student life and leadership and is the president of the Student Nurses Association. Throughout her time at GateWay, she attended multiple leadership events, including LeaderShape, a week-long intensive leadership training program.
“I learned to always lead with integrity,” she said.
Jessie Palacio, the director of Student Life and Leadership at GateWay, had a profound impact on Ramos during her time at GateWay. Palacio said Ramos has turned into an effective leader over the years, one that is a go-getter and a team player.
“She motivates people,” Palacio said. “She gets that everyone has the capacity to lead.”
In addition to her campus engagement, Ramos was able to study abroad in Prague in the summer of 2016, thanks to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.
“No one in my family had ever traveled overseas, so I was happy to be the first one,” she said. “I saw beautiful architecture and learned a whole new culture.”
With all of her commitments, Ramos has mastered the art of time management, and encourages new students to set blocks of time aside for schoolwork and stay on top of deadlines.
“I put everything in my Google Calendar and put that it’s due two days before it’s actually due. Even if I am procrastinating, I still do it two days before,” said Ramos.
In addition to her studies at GateWay, Ramos also attended classes at South Mountain and Scottsdale community colleges, but enjoyed her experience at GateWay best.
“I don’t have a stable home, so I think that’s why I’m so connected to here because no matter what, I feel secure and safe,” she said.
Although Crissy’s journey at GateWay is coming to a close, she knows she won’t be gone for long. After working as a nurse for a few years, she hopes to obtain a master’s degree and come back as a professor at GateWay.
“I want to do what my teachers did for me,” she said. “I want to make that impact as a nurse by not only being in the field but also teaching them. So, if I teach 20 students, that’s 20 other nurses that can help people.”
Learn more about the concurrent nursing program and see how you can earn an associate and bachelor’s degree in nursing while saving money and time.