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English Second Language graduate is set to become a nurse

[SPOKANE, Wash.] — Cynthia Mallan Perez stood in front of hundreds of Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language graduates to give some parting advice to her class as they gathered at the Spokane Community College Johnson Sports Complex on Tuesday night.  

“In order to grow we need to accept challenges and never give up,” she said in her graduation speech.  

Cynthia is celebrating her completion of the ESL program as of March alongside her mother Cary Perez and brother Daniel Mallan Perez who finished the program last week. 

Cynthia’s journey at SCC will continue when she begins her associate degree in the fall.  

The Journey  

This moment felt long overdue for the Mallan Perez family who waited seven years to move from Havana, Cuba to Spokane where they reunited with Cynthia's father and uncle.  

“My uncle came here 12 years ago, and he is the one who told us that Spokane Community College would have good programs for us,” she said. “He was always the first person who thought about my family and will be grateful to him for the rest of my life. Because of him I get to be here and know so many things.”  

Cynthia said her greatest challenge after getting to Spokane was the English language barrier. Two years later, she has completed SCC’s ESL program, achieved her nursing assistant certificate and became CPR certified.  

“I’m very good at communicating in Spanish, I can talk about every single topic, so I have knowledge, but no one can imagine how I feel when I’m trying to express something, but I can’t,” she said.  

Figuring out where you fit into a new community and different culture is a tall task. Half the obstacle lies in knowing who to talk to or where to start.  

This was a whole other set of obstacles Cynthia ran up against two years ago, but SCC had just the space for her — she just didn’t know it until one of Cynthia’s ESL instructors, Christina Mitma Momono, invited the Mallan family to join the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) as an opportunity to stay in touch with their Latin culture while finding new friendships in Spokane. 

Momono expressed her pride in Cynthia as someone who is always ready to embrace new opportunities and return love in all that she does.  

“She has an amazing spirit that will carry her through her obstacles,” Momono said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing her grow and work through everything. I also love how much love and respect she has for her mother and brother who have been on this educational journey.”  

Becoming a Nurse

Some people are fortunate enough to know exactly what they want to be when they grow up and Cynthia is one of them.  

When she was four years old, Cynthia's grandmother had a stroke and that is where her admiration for the nursing profession began.  

She witnessed the kindness of nurses and nursing assistants for years as they helped Cynthia and her family take care of her grandmother.  

“They were like superheroes to me,” Cynthia said in her speech on Tuesday. “I saw everything they did and decided I would like to be like a nurse.”  

Cynthia completed her nursing assistant certificate two months after wrapping up her level six ESL classes and is going to tackle her associate in nursing starting this fall. 

She is getting ready to be that hero for someone else. 

“I felt very nice and very excited in my clinical days,” she said. "When I was in my scrubs, I had a good feeling, and I knew I was in the right place. This is my dream, to be useful and help people. I want to be there.”   

Looking toward the future 

A week before graduation, Cynthia enrolled in classes for her associate of applied science in nursing degree that she’ll begin in the fall.  

She is ready to become a nurse and be someone that other people can look up to for support, just in the same way that she looked up to her grandmother's nurses back in Cuba.  

“I’m really grateful for this school,” she said. “They have all these programs, so I don’t want to stop.” 

Posted On

6/13/2024 9:28:55 AM

Posted By

Kayla Friedrich



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