Nursing graduate survives COVID and fulfills lifelong dream

Published: May. 14, 2021 at 7:58 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - As Calhoun Community College holds its nursing program’s graduation ceremony on Friday, one graduate is realizing her dream on the heels of surviving COVID-19.

Elizabeth Ovalle said her dream of becoming a nurse is one she’s had for many years. Her passion was solidified after she saw firsthand how much they mean when caring for people. Back in March of last year, Ovalle said she went to the ER when she had trouble breathing. That’s when she found out she had COVID-19.

Ovalle was admitted and put on a ventilator for two weeks. During that stay, Ovalle said she found out her mother also had COVID and was admitted just a few doors down.

“She was in the hospital for a total of a month and a half because of COVID. She was able to be discharged after she got a tracheotomy and it’s healed now and she doesn’t have it anymore,” she said. “I can deal with stuff when it’s just me but to know that it happened to someone I care about is truly heartbreaking.”

Now, this wasn’t the only time Ovalle was hospitalized. After that first stay, she had to go back to the hospital again after a relapse in her health due to COVID. Ovalle said she was placed on a ventilator again and this time when they went to extubate her, the unthinkable happened.

“When they took me off the ventilator my throat decided to close off and I couldn’t breathe and went to cardiac arrest,” she said. “They were able to bring me back after CPR.”

Luckily, doctors were able to bring her back and through hard work and dedication, she not only healed but also finished all her classes.

“Once I get something stuck in my head I am determined until I can do it myself,” Ovalle said. “With COVID-19 and actually having it and seeing how much my nurses took care of me, how much doctors, respiratory therapists, patient care aids, and so many people involved in my care I just knew I wanted to be part of that. Part of that teamwork.”

According to school leaders, Ovalle did not miss a beat with her classwork and used her time of healing to study.

Ovalle officially finished her classes in December, but she had to wait until now for her graduation ceremony.

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