Posted May, 26, 2020
Yecenia Rivera took her first class at Lorain County Community College in 1993. She completed her most recent class in May 2020. The extended timeline has made reaching graduation an extra special accomplishment, she said.
Yecenia and Anthony Rivera
“I like to joke that it’s been 27 years in the making,” Yecenia said. “I started taking classes, I got married. I had kids, but I kept on with school when I could.”
This month, the Lorain woman is earning her associate degree in nursing, and will soon take the state exam to become a registered nurse. Along the path to RN, Yecenia completed the LPN program in 2004.
“I have always wanted to take care of people. I’ve always had that passion. At LCCC, I was able to take classes slowly and reach my goal of becoming an RN,” Yecenia, 47, said.
Registered Nurse is a title she’ll share with her son, Anthony, 20, who graduated from LCCC’s nursing program in December 2019. He began work at Mercy Hospital in Lorain in March.
After earning her LPN, Yecenia began work at the University Hospitals Avon Rehabilitation Hospital. It was her stories from the world of health care that inspired Anthony to follow in her footsteps. Anthony is one of three kids in the Rivera family, but he is the only one who felt drawn to a medical career.
“I’m the only one of the kids who didn’t get grossed out by her stories from work,” Anthony recalled with a laugh.
When he was a freshman in high school, he enrolled in LCCC’s Early College High School, a combined high school and college experience on the LCCC campus. While at Early College, he had the opportunity to take classes in the state tested nurse assistant (STNA) program. He was hooked.
“Once I did the STNA program, I knew I really wanted to go into health care. Early College prepared me for nursing school,” he said.
Anthony graduated from Early College in 2017 with both an associate of arts and an associate of science degrees. He began his nursing classes later that year, beginning a unique situation for him and his mother, as they both worked toward degrees in nursing. The mother-son duo used their classes a way to connect and support each other, and sometimes also as a source of good-natured teasing.
“I was one semester behind him, so we could share tips about classes and studying,” Yecenia said. “We had all the same professors, so he knew he had to leave a good impression because his mom was following right behind him. I loved to remind him of that.”
Both of the Riveras said they benefitted from the help and support of nursing professor Nanci Berman.
“She has been a constant for us. When we felt low or stressed, she gives the best pep talks,” Yecenia said.
Starting out as an RN during the COVID-19 pandemic may not be what the Riveras expected, but they are eager to help.
“Overall, I’ve enjoyed starting out during this memorable time,” Anthony said.
Once she passes the state exam, Yecenia hopes to continue her career at the rehab hospital.
“I love what I do and I’m excited at the idea of expanding my role as an RN,” she said.