Accomplishing Her Goals as an Adult, First-generation Student: Nikki El

Unsure of a career path, Nikki El first attended the College in 2002. Her financial situation changed, and as a newly married wife and homeowner, there was little time left for school. When she returned in 2020, she found the guidance and knowledge she needed to achieve her goals.

Nikki works full time as a cardiac surgery nurse at the University of Pennsylvania, where she treats COVID-19 patients and has had to work many overtime shifts during the pandemic. As a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), she needed additional education credentials to move forward in the field. 

“I enjoy cardiac surgery, but I want to advance my nursing career,” she said.

Nikki is graduating with a degree in Health Care Studies and will start the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at La Salle in August. She was recently notified that credits from two of her classes would not transfer, so she will be retaking two courses at the College this summer.

“As a nurse, I understand the ups and downs—it’s like an EKG strip—I just roll with it,” Nikki said.

Being a mom to five- and 12-year old sons, a wife, and a working professional, Nikki benefitted from the part-time class offerings that enabled her to pursue her degree, and she was supported along the way by College staff.

She credits Wataru Nishida, an assistant professor of Counseling, with assisting her throughout her educational journey.

“He was welcoming, and he understood how to guide me. He asked me where I wanted to go. He worked with me every semester. He told me what classes would help me with my BSN—not just to graduate with an associate degree, but he was preparing me for the next level. The College’s counselors are phenomenal—I can’t thank them enough,” she said.

She will re-evaluate her options after earning her bachelor’s, but her future aspirations include becoming a nurse practitioner and opening up her own urgent care clinic.

As a 37-year-old, and being the first in her family to earn a degree, she wants to encourage others like her who may be hesitant about pursuing their education.

“It can be achieved. Slow motion is better than no motion. I feel like my story can give other people hope. Everyone at the College is phenomenal, from the Bursar’s Office [Student Tuition Services] to Financial Aid. I enjoyed going to school. I was very nervous, with other things to worry about like work and bills, but the faculty were very understanding. I’m not computer savvy, but I learned. CCP was my career path to a four-year school,” Nikki said.