Brandie Galicia’s love of nursing began at age 11 when her mother was diagnosed with a rare congenital disease in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. It can be very painful and cause neck pain, hearing or balance problems, dizziness, numbness, difficulty swallowing, and tinnitus. Her mother’s condition was so serious that it threatened to paralyze her and required surgery.
Acting as her mother’s interpreter set her on a path to nursing
As a 6th grader, Galicia would accompany her mother to her doctor’s appointments. Her parents migrated from Mexico and were not fluent in English, so Galicia acted as her mother’s interpreter. “I got to interact with the staff, and I noticed that my mom really bonded with one of her nurses. From that point on, I fell in love with how nurses related to patients and the care they provided.”
Fast forward a few years to Galicia’s senior year at Aurora Central when she tore her ACL. “This time, I was the patient.” Scared about undergoing surgery, Galicia recalled, “How one conversation with my pre-op nurse changed my whole perspective. The experience just solidified my desire to go into the nursing field.”
Scholarships were a Godsend
During high school, Galicia enrolled in concurrent enrollment classes with the Community College of Aurora (CCA), which allowed her to graduate in 2017 with 16 college credits! She went on to attend CCA on a full-ride scholarship through the Aurora Gives Foundation and applied to the Integrated Nursing Pathway (INP) program at CU Nursing. “I worked hard throughout high school, with the help of my scholarship, to try to get most of my pre-recs done so that I could apply for the INP program.”
New student group fights to change culture at CU’s College of Nursing
If you’re a nursing student who feels the culture at the University of Colorado College of Nursing needs to change, you can now turn to Future Voices. The student group was established last June during a time when news headlines reported police officers shooting Black Americans and the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
A nursing student who was outraged at what she saw on the news and questioned the university’s response wrote an email to the college asking it “not to turn a blind eye” to what was happening nationwide. Omarah Macias heard back from the assistant dean of student affairs and diversity. Shane Hoon invited her to a greater diversity, equity and inclusion meeting for faculty. But she quickly realized the group was missing a critical voice – that of the student – and decided to start an organization just for them.
Future Voices comprised of undergraduate and graduate students who work to create a safe and inclusive place for all students and prevent social injustices. The American College of Nursing (2019) says 90% of the nursing workforce is female and 81% are white.
One of the group’s goals today is to induct the first Black nurse who graduated from the University of Colorado School of Nursing in 1946 into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. Zipporah Park Hammonds blazed trails for all women and people of color in health care, record-keeping and philanthropy in the face of extreme racism and prejudice. The beloved leader died in Longmont, Colorado in July 2011. Since then, her sons have nominated her to the hall of fame five times without success.
“As more women and people of color are finally being recognized for their contributions to nursing, healthcare and the sciences, we believe in joining our collective voices with her sons at this pivotal moment. This the year to give Zippy her very well-deserved recognition for all her hard work in paving the way for Black indigenous nursing students of color who came after her,” wrote College of Nursing students Salwa Bamba, Jessica Gonzalez-Avitia and Omarah Macias.
The group has already collected more than 1200 signatures on a petition to show public support for Hammond’s induction into the hall of fame. If you’d like to show your support, you can sign the petition.
Personal experience leads to new initiative
“I was lucky. I received scholarships. But for a lot of first-generation college students it’s discouraging – mainly because of the cost,” said Brandie Galicia. That’s why she’s been working on an initiative with the Future Voices organization that combines mentoring opportunities for Hinkley High School students with access to scholarships. To have access to the scholarships for which Galicia is currently writing grants, the students must participate in a mentorship program that includes workshops and lunch and learn sessions that immerse the students into the world of nursing. Galicia has already enrolled 18 students and has a sponsor at the high school. “The kids are extremely excited. I think they see that I’ve gone through what they’re going through and can help them figure out a path to achieving their dreams,” said Galicia.
Galicia will graduate in May with her bachelor’s degree and will be the first member of her family to do so. “My parents always believed that I would do something in the medical field because of how naturally I gravitated toward helping people,” said Galicia.