Everyone around Jessica Pinedo sees her RT program and leadership accomplishments and has no doubts about a bright career ahead for her. Everyone except Jessica.
Even as the recognition and awards stack up, she is filled with self-doubt.
“I hold myself to very high standards and beat myself up a lot,” she admits. “I consider myself failing more often than succeeding.”
A recent B-grade in one of her classes and a missed day of school due to a family emergency dropped her 4.0 GPA to a 3.9. “It was really upsetting to me,” Jessica agonized.
Jessica takes little comfort in the facts of her program and educational accomplishments. She is a member of the campus Lions Club, contributed hours of volunteer work for Cystic Fibrosis, American Lung Association and events on behalf of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, while she holds onto a presence on the Dean’s List and Perfect Attendance list, as well as past recognition on the Honors List.
Most recently Jessica’s nomination form was accepted by the California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) to clear the way for her campaign for President for her region of this statewide organization. Should she win that race, she will be the first student to do so.
“I highly recommend Jessica (for President) because of her passion for Respiratory Care and her spirited, youthful energy she will bring our Region,” says Russell McCord, Ontario RT instructor and current CSRC Vice President.
Maybe Jessica does not feel the full measure of her abilities and accomplishments because her struggles have overcast their shine.
Jessica had her first son, Blake, when she was nineteen. A couple of years later, Connor made it a young family of three. The next dozen years were a whirl of gains and losses. Jessica found a career as a Pharmacy Technician, but felt the miss of direct involvement with patients. She lost her 55-year old mom, Debra, who as a nurse was Jessica’s inspiration to work in the medical field.
“My mom was a fabulous nurse who had a passion for patients,” says Jessica. “When I was little, she took me to work with her and always treated me like someone who could handle information about what her patients were struggling with.”
Debra was also at Jessica’s side throughout the natural birth of her first son. “She was my # 1 coach and walked me through every aspect of the process,” says Jessica. “There’s nothing like having your mother there every step of the way.”
Debra had been gone almost two years when Jessica enrolled in SJVC’s Respiratory Therapy program. She realized that she was going to need lots of support to make it through the 20-month commitment. Jessica’s boyfriend, Joseph, and her two sons pitched in to cover, as well as they could, the many responsibilities at home.
“My boys are super excited and supportive,” says Jessica. “They clean up their own messes and do their own laundry,” she says. “But, they remind me, ‘Mom, we can’t wait for you to get a job.’”
The hardest time came when Joseph had to take a job in Montana. During the year he was gone their support team expanded even deeper into family ties, which include Blake’s grandmother, Sherri, Joseph’s mother, Cindy, and Jessica’s grandmother and aunt who both live a distance away, but provide lots of loving, emotional support. The person doing much of the heavy lifting was Jessica’s dad, Jesse, for whom she was named.
“I’ve had so much support from my dad, who often takes the kids to school and picks them up,” says Jessica. “Without Dad, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. The older I’ve gotten, the closer we’ve gotten.
Joseph is working close to home now, and his emotional and financial help is critical to Jessica’s success as a student. Originally, he and Jessica were enrolling in the RT program together, but when Joseph was in the final stages of enrollment he had to follow his job out of state.
“He’s been paying a lot of the bills and he’s been emotionally supportive through my exams and melt-down days,” says Jessica, who is often a bit overwhelmed. “But, we have no time to go anywhere or do anything while I’m in my clinicals.”
Due to graduate in May, Jessica is knee-deep in clinical rotations – and loving it. She is getting to sample various medical environments and enjoying the opportunity to make a positive impression on a possible future employer.
“I’m interested in a specialty acute care hospital, or a residency program that has a very intense learning environment and specialty training in pediatrics and ICU,” says Jessica, who wants to eventually get her Bachelor’s degree.
Few doubt that Jessica can capture any one of these outstanding medical opportunities. Except Jessica, who teeters on the edge of self-assurance.
“My confidence level in general is not so high,” she says. “I come off as a confident individual, but deep down inside…,” she trails off in her self-doubt.
Those who surround her and witness her daily strength and determination will steadfastly keep the faith for Jessica’s abilities and dreams until she can claim them for herself.