Carlos Rodriguez, a native of Mexico City, grew up wanting to be just like his parents – his father is an emergency room physician and medical examiner and his mother is a general physician. Carlos pursued his bachelor’s in biology at Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, but ultimately decided to forgo medical school for a career in teaching.

When he wasn’t teaching high school biology (or as a postgraduate teaching assistant at his alma mater), Carlos was pursuing his passion for medicine – as an emergency medical technician for the Mexican Red Cross.

Starting over

In 2005, Carlos’s life took an unexpected turn. His stepfather passed away. Carlos’s mother and stepfather had moved to the United States years earlier, and were living in Longmont. “I knew I needed to go to Colorado to be with my mom,” says Carlos.

Once in the U.S., he intended to continue his biology studies, but with a degree from a non-U.S. college, he would have had to repeat many classes. Carlos decided on a different path: nursing. “I think nurses have the unique opportunity to be that in-between person that works with the doctor and the patient, and I like that.” Carlos decided to take the prerequisites for the FRCC Nursing Program.

First, though, Carlos had a big hurdle to overcome: He needed to learn English. He took English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and reached out to his new community to practice communicating – attending events, getting involved in activities, and asking for help. “My life here began at Front Range,” he says. “People extended their hands to help and welcome me.”

Helping others, helping himself

In 2007, Carlos landed a job with Boulder County Campus Student Life. Working at Student Life helped Carlos improve his English, but it was more than that, too. “I like helping people,” says Carlos. “I like to help them have a good college experience, and I enjoy being a part of the college.”

Front Range, he says, is an environment suited for people like him. “People know each other by name here. They want to help you. And instructors are well prepared for the classes they teach. They want students to do well and they are available to assist them.”

Today, Carlos holds four certificates from FRCC: Emergency Medical Services, Pre-Paramedic, Phlebotomy, and Practical Nursing. In 2008, he received the State Student Advisory Council’s Rising Star Award and the FRCC Vice President Service Award.

A new life chapter

In summer 2011, Carlos changed jobs after four years in Student Life. He is now assisting Public Safety officers at the Boulder County Campus in their work on emergency preparedness plans.

And in summer 2012, he will begin the A.A.S. Nursing Program at FRCC. He plans to continue on to earn his B.S. in Nursing and eventually work as a travelling nurse or in an Intensive Care Unit.

“It will be a tough day when I don’t come here for work or class,” Carlos admits. “But that is a part of life. I have to keep moving forward to achieve my dreams. FRCC is a big part of me reaching those dreams, so I’ll always love this place.”

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