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CU Nursing student Claudia Martinez Antillon

Supporting Our Community’s Most Vulnerable

UCAN Student Wants to Focus on Treating Mental Health

Written by Molly Smerika on December 4, 2023

Claudia Martinez Antillon’s father is the main reason why she wanted to pursue a career in nursing.

“Growing up, my dad was diagnosed with schizophrenia,” she says. “I was in and out of hospitals with him when he tried to get treatment.”

Martinez Antillon is in the University of Colorado College of Nursing Accelerated BS in Nursing (UCAN) program – but, she didn’t go into nursing right away.

The California native first got a degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Then she took a job as a research assistant at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

“After graduation, I decided I wanted to do research, and this one (at CU Anschutz) happened to be something I’m passionate about,” she says. “It focused on perinatal research in search of ways to prevent mental health disorders, like schizophrenia.”

Martinez Antillon worked in that role for about two years before she decided to get her nursing degree after volunteering at the School of Medicine’s DAWN Clinic. She says during the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic wasn’t seeing patients and it made her realize she didn’t want to be at a desk anymore.

“I wanted to be with patients and on the front line helping people,” she says. “I want to be an advocate in healthcare for our most vulnerable patients in our community – including our low-income population, people who are uninsured, single mothers, migrants, and patients with mental health disorders.”

Looking Ahead to the Future

Martinez Antillon is staying in Denver after graduation. She accepted a position in Denver Health’s new grad program and she’ll be working on the Maternal Child Float Pool, which includes the NICU, pediatrics, and other maternal care. She wants to get her Family Nurse Practitioner degree and plans to work in obstetrics and pediatrics, treating Denver’s migrant population.

“I want to work for a health center that’s engrained in the community,” she says. “All of these skills I’ve learned will help me be the best Family Nurse Practitioner I can be.”

She credits her time at CU Nursing for preparing her to take the next steps in her career, including continuing to volunteer at the DAWN Clinic.

“I love my classmates and I love all of these new experiences and technical skills I’m learning,” she says. “Now, when I volunteer, I see everything from a nurse’s point of view, and I feel like I’m better able to help my community through a nursing lens.”