Registered nurse, Karen Garcia, finds herself at the intersection of a global pandemic and a hot button U.S. political issue.
As an RN at a Central Phoenix hospital, Karen has been on the frontlines treating patients suspected of having COVID-19 in isolated holding areas. At the same time, she continues to face uncertainty concerning her U.S. citizenship status.
In addition to her brave service as a COVID-19 nurse, Karen is also an undocumented immigrant, part of the DACA — or “dreamer” — program that has continually been subject to inconsistent legislation. Karen and her family emigrated from Mexico City to Phoenix twenty six years ago when she was a child and have proceeded to integrate themselves into the fabric of the community ever since. Now a mother herself, Karen must still grapple with the looming specter of deportation. “It’s always been a challenge because you never know what will happen.”
An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision threatens the status of thousands of Arizona DACA recipients, many of whom are healthcare professionals battling an invisible enemy. Karen wonders how her Phoenix community could continue as usual, “minus 27,000 [healthcare] workers that are in DACA right now.”
Simultaneously, Karen is earning her BSN online at Aspen University to better herself, her family, and her community. To how she balances the threat of deportation, the rigors of schooling, and her treatment of coronavirus patients, Karen draws from her internal strength, the fortitude of her fellow nurses, and, unfortunately, life experiences that have been anything but linear.
In particular, her immigration status, subject to political change, has continually upended her nursing education. Whether it be eligibility issues or tuition spikes, there has “always been an obstacle in the way.”
Still, when it comes to her education, “nobody was gonna take that away” from Karen.