Natalia Pereiea has always believed in second chances, and she is thankful that Texas Southmost College believes in them too.
The 22-year-old earned an associate degree in Respiratory Care Science in spring 2021, after a lengthy battle with grief after the loss of her biggest supporter – her grandfather.
“His loss was sudden, and I had a difficult time coping,” said Pereiea. “I was in the middle of the respiratory program when it happened, and I couldn’t keep going.”
The Brownsville native’s grandfather, who suffered from asthma most of his life, was stung by more than 100 bees, sending him into anaphylactic shock and losing the ultimate fight.
“I was studying respiratory care because of him. I wanted to help him and understand his treatments better,” she said. “So, after realizing that I wanted my success in the respiratory program to honor his legacy, I returned, hoping that TSC would give me a second chance.”
TSC did give her the second chance she hoped for.
Pereiea reapplied to the Respiratory Care Science program, was accepted and continued along her journey.
“When I returned, I was in a much better place mentally and emotionally,” said Pereiea. “And now I’m in the business of helping others feel better too.”
She added that the program’s faculty and hands-on training has given her the foundation she needs to kick-start her career at the end of the month with a local hospital as a respiratory therapist.
“A lot has influenced my success in TSC’s Respiratory Care program, but especially my instructor Alberto Vasquez,” she said. “He was there for me during my loss and there for me when I returned. He never gave up on me and he always believed in me. That is what made all the difference.”
She added that his guidance gave her the confidence she needed in herself and in her skills and fully prepared her to enter the field and continue her education.
“My favorite part of the job is gaining patients’ trust and helping them feel better and live healthier lives,” said Pereiea. “So having the opportunity to start my career at only 22 is a dream come true and leaves plenty of room for me to go back to school and advance in my profession.”
In the near future, Pereiea hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree to become a respiratory specialist or neonatologist, working with infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“I can’t believe all the opportunities I have gained because of my time at TSC and what I get to look forward to now,” she said. “This college has really become a part of who I am and I’m so fortunate to have had TSC right in my backyard cheering me on, preparing me and motivating me to move forward. The sky is the limit now.”
TSC Respiratory Care Science is a two-year, associate degree program that prepares students to become highly skilled, entry-level respiratory therapists. These therapists work in a variety of health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices and rehabilitation clinics.
For more information about TSC’s Respiratory Care Science program, visit tsc.edu.
Registration for summer and fall 2021 is ongoing, to register, visit tsc.edu/register.