Following in her brother’s footsteps.
That’s one of the reasons why Ashley Reyes decided to join the LVN program at Andrews High School. It’s also the reason why she chose Miguel to pin her at the Odessa College LVN pinning ceremony this summer.
“He was the main reason I started the LVN program,” Ashley said. “I felt like it wasn't just a special moment for me, it was for my instructors as well.
“Some of the LVN instructors are leaving the high school portion and moving to the RN program. So, to turn around and see them in tears, knowing that Miguel was one of their first students and I was one of their last was very heartwarming, and I wanted them to experience that.”
However, it wasn't until two months before the ceremony that Miguel committed to being there to pin his sister.
“I actually had plans that weekend and wasn't planning on going,” Miguel said. “I told her I would just pin her at the RN ceremony. But, as it came closer, it just didn't feel right.”
So, Miguel cut his trip short and came home early to attend the pinning ceremony.
Ashley witnessed first-hand how much hardwork and dedication Miguel put into the LVN and RN programs and credits her interest in nursing to her brother’s successful career.
“He was the main reason I chose to go through the program,” Ashley said. “Before you start something like this, you don't really know what you're getting yourself into. Having Miguel for guidance, I understood how far I could take this. He's going really far with his career, so I know how beneficial this is to me. I knew if I stuck it out and made it through all the way, it was going to be worth it in the end.”
Ashley still has big shoes to fill as she continues to follow in Miguel’s footsteps.
Just a few months shy of his 20th birthday, Miguel became the youngest person in the state of Texas to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and became a registered nurse.
“I honestly didn't know that was something I was achieving until the month of graduation when it was mentioned to me,” Miguel said. “I knew it was a really big deal when the director of nursing at Odessa College announced it in front of all those people at the pinning ceremony. I was in shock,” Miguel said.
Miguel’s journey to becoming an RN started with his mom.
“My mom had a lot to do with me wanting to join the LVN program. She was a medical assistant at Medical Center Hospital (MCH) and when the program came around she actually had heard about it before me,” he said. “She told me it's a good opportunity to start my career while I was still in high school.”
Miguel applied to the LVN program and was selected for the inaugural class from Andrews.
“The first class was really interesting and then I just kept making progress. I also learned from my instructors that this career has endless opportunities, many doors, many directions to go, so that's why I kept going.”
But being the first also comes with some bumps along the way.
“Our instructors would call us the ‘guinea pigs’. We started off with ten people and we lost about five almost right away. It wasn't looking good for us in the beginning,” he said.
Miguel and his classmates graduated from Andrews High School in May 2018 and were pinned as LVN’s in October 2018. By January 2019, Miguel was fully enrolled in the RN program at Odessa College while also working at Medical Center Hospital as an LVN.
By December of 2019, Miguel was an RN.
Miguel began his first job as an RN in January 2020 working in the intensive care unit at MCH. Then, COVID-19 hit three months later.
“I had a few months to settle in before [the pandemic] hit, but there were some big changes in the hospital that people who had been working there for years had never seen before. I had a great team to work with at MCH,” Miguel said.
Miguel spent almost two years at MCH when he got another great opportunity. Miguel received his first contract as a traveling nurse in October 2021.
“It was during COVID and my family wasn't doing so well, financially, and there was a big opportunity for me to help them,” Miguel said. “That was one of the biggest pushes for me to consider a traveling contract. It was always available to me, I just didn't want to jump into it yet. I didn't feel like I had enough experience. Once I got to the two-year mark, I felt more confident that I could make a difference and try to help my family.”
Miguel’s first travel contract was with a rapid response team at Main Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Following the end of that contract, Miguel received a new traveling contract with the University Medical Center in Lubbock. He started in the Neuro ICU, and has moved to the Trauma-Surgical ICU.
The LVN program at Andrews High School has seen major growth in the last five years. Both Miguel and Ashley agree it helped jumpstart their careers from an early age.
“I am so grateful for this program through Andrews ISD. The amount of resources and classes you have through it is amazing,” Ashley said.
“Andrews ISD was always very supportive of me throughout my career in the LVN program,” Miguel said. “They always had help for us. I never felt helpless or overwhelmed, like I wasn’t able to do both. I am very grateful for Andrews ISD. I can't thank it enough for the opportunity it gave me.”