Faith helped TSTC student persevere

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Trials and tribulations come in many shapes and sizes. For recent Texas State Technical College graduate Gracie Arias, those trials and tribulations came when she was about to begin her second semester on the path to an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing.

That was when her doctor said, “The tumor is malignant.”

Now healthy and with her degree under her belt, Arias is ready to become a positive light for others in a field that helped save her life.

“I initially pursued nursing about 22 years ago,” she said. “At the time, I was married, and I had children. My husband and I also own a gym. So I put a pause on my nursing journey, and I directed my path toward raising my children and continuing with our business.”

Advice from her children, who have all received their college degrees, is what motivated her to reignite the flame for nursing that she had two decades ago.

“My children have already graduated,” she said. “Once they finished, they told me, ‘Mom, now it’s your turn.’”

Despite Arias’ excitement to begin her path to nursing, an extremely unexpected bump in the road tried to stop her.

“It stuns you when the medical personnel tell you that the tumor you have is malignant,” she said. “I asked if the surgery to remove the tumor could possibly wait until I was done with school because I was just going into my second semester of nursing. My doctor explained to me that this type of cancer grows very rapidly, and he wanted to operate immediately.”

Arias was determined to complete her degree and refused to let her diagnosis and treatment impact her time in the Nursing program.

“The surgery was successful,” she said. “I went through six chemotherapy sessions after my surgery. The chemo would knock me down for about two or three days at a time. But come that Monday when it was time for class, I was okay.”

Her resilience is something that her instructors saw for themselves.

“She is just awesome,” said program director Heather Sauceda. “She did not have any excuses for anything and gave it her all. She had a mentality of ‘let me do it’ and ‘I can do it.’ She was such a blessing to have in this program.”

Arias is also thankful for the comfort that her classmates provided, and for the support system she had at TSTC.

“All of our instructors are an amazing team,” she said. “The way that they want you to become the best nurse you can be shows that they genuinely care about their students. Our class was extremely close with one another.”

After graduating with a 4.0 GPA, Arias is ready to step into the health care field to help others in any way that she can.

“I truly believe that God was leading me because of the way everything played out,” she said. “I kept hearing a little voice telling me that everything was going to be okay. I know that I have been placed in this position to help people, and I fully believe that there is nothing we cannot conquer with faith, trust and perseverance.”

To learn more about TSTC’s Nursing program, visit https://www.tstc.edu/programs/Nursing.