Pursuing an education in nursing has taken Diana Meza Cabrera on a lengthy road of challenges, experiences and rewards.
Since graduating from high school in 2006, Meza Cabrera consistently found ways to help others. As an outreach educator for the Live Violence Free program in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., she has assisted domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse victims. She also been a student assistant at the Humboldt State University Health Center, and has participated in blood and toothbrush drives while attending WNC.
“I’ve always loved helping and being part of the community,” Meza Cabrera said. “I like those connections you make in clubs and having leadership roles in clubs.”
Now, the Nevada System of Higher Education has assisted her. Meza Cabrera was recently selected as the 2016 Regents Scholar Award recipient for WNC. As a Regents Scholar Award winner, Meza Cabrera receives $5,000. One student from each Nevada System of Higher Education institution is selected for the annual award based on their academic achievements, service contributions and leadership.
“I’m pretty surprised that I got the call, and it helps a lot,” said Meza Cabrera, who has a 2-year-old daughter named Metzi. “I have a bachelor’s degree so I don’t qualify for financial aid. The money will help with a better living situation and not relying on my parents so much.”
WNC Nursing Professor Edda Gibson said that Meza Cabrera is “most deserving and has worked very hard for this honor.”
Following high school, Meza Cabrera enrolled at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., with the intention of entering the university’s nursing program once she fulfilled the program’s prerequisites. But a year before applying to the nursing program, it was discontinued. Rather than drop out, she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in one of her minors, Spanish Education, before returning home to Lake Tahoe.
But she didn’t give up her dream. At Lake Tahoe Community College she continued to work on the academic requirements expected of a nursing student, and assumed several roles for the Live Violence Free program.
Her perseverance paid off, as she was accepted into WNC’s nursing program last year. Meza Cabrera now is in her final semester of the program.
“It’s crazy that is has taken 10 years to get where I wanted to be,” she said.
From her clinical rotations at Carson Tahoe, Renown Regional and St. Mary’s medical centers, Meza Cabrera has emphasized providing additional care to patients.
“We’ve been helping people going into surgery and coming out of surgery, learning patient care and signs that nurses need to be aware of,” Meza Cabrera said. “It is nice to take the time with the patients because regular nurses are overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel patients want to talk more and we are able to be there for them. Someone might need a hug right then and there might not be a medication or procedure for what they are feeling then.”
Gibson said that Meza Cabrera has demonstrated the qualities that will help her succeed in her nursing career.
“In the clinical environment, Diana is the most compassionate, respectful and focused professional student,” Gibson said. “I have had the pleasure of being part of all three curricular environments with Miss Cabrera and very much respect and anticipate a rewarding and fulfilling career for Diana.”
Providing leadership has also been important to Meza Cabrera during her education at WNC.
“Much more impressive than the curricular commitment to learning, she has consistently accepted leadership roles,” Gibson said. “She has served as president of the National Student Nurses Association for 2016, secretary for our second-year nursing club, and attended the National Student Nurses Conference in 2015.”
Even though Meza Cabrera will have two degrees when she graduates from the nursing program in May, she plans to continue her education at the University of Nevada, Reno. She aspires to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and someday work in surgery.
“My ultimate goal since I started the program is to be in the operating room,” she said. “It’s the one that has always stood out the most since my internship at Barton Hospital. I want to be in there with the doctors, helping them with the surgery.”
As Meza Cabrera nears some of her goals, she hasn’t lost perspective of who has helped her make it happen.
“I feel that is not just my win but my parents,” said Meza Cabrera, who was born in Mexicali, Mexico. “My parents have worked so hard, coming from another country and establishing themselves at a place where everything is unknown and them getting their child to a place where I’m accomplishing my dream.”
Meza Cabrera’s mom, Patricia, has also provided care for Metzi while she attends classes and studies.
“I’m eternally grateful to my mom for fulfilling that role because it’s definitely hard leaving my daughter and missing some of the firsts for her, but always keeping in mind this is for her,” Meza Cabrera said. “It’s been my biggest struggle and my greatest motivation.”