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CU Nursing student Melissa Sanchez

Living the Dream

From Colombia, South America to Aurora, Colorado by way of Miami, this Women’s Health NP Candidate’s childhood informs her practice.

Written by Dana Brandorff on April 24, 2023

When Melissa Sanchez was 8 years old, her mother separated from her father and emigrated from Colombia, South America to Miami, FL with her four kids for a “better life, better future and better education,” says Sanchez. “The country is beautiful and lush but impoverished, crippled by corruption and guerilla warfare. And my mother did not see much of a future there for us.”

Leaving the known behind and moving to a foreign country while raising three sons and a daughter was difficult.

“My mother worked endlessly to ensure we went to bed with full tummies,” says Sanchez. It was a struggle, but she persevered, and the family thrived. “The path to getting better is knowing how well we have it,” says Sanchez. Eventually, her mother remarried and became a realtor. “My mother is my hero,” who together with Sanchez’s stepfather are responsible for a lot of the family’s success. “I would not be here without either of them,” she adds.

When Sanchez and her siblings were young, their mother asked them to choose careers that were “useful.” With three brothers – two older and one younger – Sanchez and her siblings did more than just “choose something useful.” While Sanchez is a nurse pursuing her MS in Women’s Health through the University of Colorado College of Nursing, her brothers are an accountant, a physician specializing in internal medicine, and her younger brother is also a nurse. “I thank her for pushing me,” recalls Sanchez. “Coming from a third-world country, it is inspiring what you can achieve. And the American Dream is still out there.”

Path to Nursing

While in high school, Sanchez volunteered at a hospital. She went on to become a daycare teacher, waitress and bartender, then a medical assistant at a pediatric practice. She earned her BSN from Florida International University and is currently a Labor & Delivery nurse and lactation consultant at Rose Medical Center. Her experiences, compassionate nature, and love of science led her to apply to CU Nursing’s Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program at Anschutz Medical Campus.


Soon-to-be-graduate Melissa Sanchez shows off her I Am a CU Nurse sign.

Thrilled to be at a program that incorporates Jean Watson’s Theory of Caring Science, Sanchez says, “The caring science aspect of nursing is so fundamental to what we do. Nursing is both caritive and curative. And the caring science outlook really heals people.”

Why CU College of Nursing?

In addition to the Jean Watson connection, she chose CU Nursing because the program encompassed a gynecologic focus to the Women’s Health curriculum. Something she was specifically looking for. “It also offered exceptional clinical and networking opportunities.”

Sanchez loves women’s health, and it shows. She simply glows when talking about it, “Obstetrics is so beautiful. I noticed a gap between the gynecological side and menopausal transition. Women are not just childbearing bodies. I want women to feel beautiful throughout their entire lives.”

After graduating in May with her MS, Sanchez wants to work in the field for a while and identify what is missing. “Focusing on what my patients need, not what I need, is fundamental to providing good, compassionate care. Women are demanding this type of service and creating it.”

Topics: Students