What drew you to pediatric nursing?
I love children. I felt a real connection when I was in school doing my rotations. I identified with the families, which is important, because it’s not just the child who is the focus. Many times, you’re caring for the family more than the patient. I’m drawn to help with the family challenges, the psycho-social issues, minimizing trauma as much as possible.
What was your experience like when you were working on your MSN at UA Nursing?
The classrooms were intimate enough and even though it was distance learning, I didn’t feel as if I was far. The professors were engaging and personable. They really went out of their way to make sure we felt connected. It worked well around my schedule, but it challenged me and really pushed me forward in a lot of other avenues, especially in my role as mayor. I was actually finishing the program during my first term and found that some of the skills that I learned have helped me not just in my nursing but my political career as well.
How did you become involved in politics?
I was already a nurse before I became involved in the city. At that time, I was on the fringe. I was part of a coalition of concerned citizens, just keeping track of the issues. There was an opening on the city council when the incumbent decided not to run for reelection. My husband convinced me to run, saying, ‘You actually have a lot of positive attributes. You’re a nurse, you’re Latina, you speak Spanish. You’re actually representative of the community even though that’s not your forte in terms of being out in the spotlight.’ I like to work more one-on-one with people, so it was a challenge for me. I decided to put my name on the ballot and see what happened. Many times when people tell you that you’re not going to be successful, that gives you more drive to win. I had to reinvent myself, get more confident, and go door-to-door to meet constituents. I learned how you win in a grassroots campaign: The people have to see you.
What are some of your accomplishments as mayor?
We started a health Fair, both for seniors and the community at large. I started a civic engagement process with local elementary and middle schools. Those are the things that drive me.
How do you juggle all these different responsibilities?
I live by my Outlook Calendar – just kidding. I think the busiest people sometimes are the most organized. You make time for everything. Of course, support from your family is key. My husband and kids are very supportive of what I do. They understand when I have to go to events. That has been part of my personal growth as well, being able to manage all of it. Sometimes you’re scared. You think you don’t have the time, but you do. It motivates you to keep going when you see the positive benefits.