Six years ago, Alyssa Hernandez spent her evenings assisting immigrants at a local emergency shelter located at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville, Texas. She was the only volunteer at the time with medical experience, helping incoming immigrants to recover from injuries and illnesses after a dangerous journey to the United States.
“I was able to set up a medical area for first aid and over-the-counter medications,” Alyssa said. “With the help of a local TV channel I was able to provide them a medical bus with a doctor and nurse for triaging and assessing patients, which was amazing.”
Today, she’s found a way to dedicate her career to helping vulnerable groups stay healthy and works full-time helping immigrant children with Southwest Key’s South Texas Nursing Department.
“I’ve always had a soft-spot for the immigrant population and being able to contribute to their health is very rewarding for me,” Alyssa said.
“I love that I get to work hand-in-hand with the medical departments and my fellow nurses. I get to help children recover from their illness and see them improve firsthand.” -Alyssa Hernandez
While working as a nurse for Southwest Key, Alyssa found herself driven with the desire to do even more. She enrolled at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) to earn a second bachelor’s degree with the aim of applying for the Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree Program.
After a lot of time and effort, Alyssa was able to graduate with her second bachelor’s degree—spotlighted by the very same local TV channel that helped her six years ago.
At a time when COVID-19 has forced us to reimagine traditional celebrations like a graduation, Alyssa was able to gather with family and friend virtually to commemorate her achievement. “It was definitely different but given the situation, I agreed with it. My family all logged on to watch and I received congratulations from family and friends on social media, which was nice of them. The school also sent us our caps, 2020 tassels and a few items since we couldn’t attend in person, which was thoughtful.”
What’s next for Alyssa now that she’s graduated? “I’ll continue my studying, as I recently got accepted to the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Texas A&M Corpus Christi to start in the fall. This program is made for nurses so that we can continue working, as there is always a great need for nurses, especially at a time like this.”
We’d like to share our congratulations to Alyssa on her enormous achievement and wish her the best of luck with earning her Master’s degree.
Interested in learning about Southwest Key’s shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors? Check out more stories from our shelters.