Name: Juan Manuel Rojas Cabrera | Class of 2019 | Major: Nursing | Post Graduation Plans: Graduate Research Program in Neural Engineering Laboratory at Mayo Clinic

Selected as Outstanding Student for Nursing

Why Did You Choose WSU

I think the biggest factor that ultimately led me to WSU was the community. I found myself being constantly encouraged and inspired to pursue higher education. Sure, I knew what a college was and what it looked like, but actually attending one was a completely different ball game. It truly was a scary time in my life saturated with uncertainty and self-doubt, but community members from WSU like Carl Stange, Sue Eckerson and Jessie Mancilla really helped me through the process. And the help I was given was no-strings attached, meaning that they were not pushing me to enroll at WSU; they simply wanted to see me as an individual succeed, regardless of where I chose to go. Personally, I took that as being very selfless, and it made me realize I wanted to be a part of a community that championed this type of philosophy.

Challenges on the Way to Your Degree

Being a first-generation student from an immigrant Mexican family, there were plenty of obstacles. At one point I thought my migratory status was in jeopardy, and all the while I was transitioning from finishing up pre-requisites, working odd hours to financially maintain myself and assist my family, and starting Nursing school – life just threw things at me left and right. However, the fact that I’m able to recognize these hardships and still be where I am today, it just goes to show that I could persevere. With the help of numerous faculty members from the Nursing and Biology department, as well as the unconditional support from my mother Graciela Cabrera and father Juan Rojas, I can say that I made it through, a little bruised, but undeterred and with more grit than ever.

Most Important Thing WSU Taught You

The most important thing WSU taught me was the importance of giving back to your community. The activities and clinical experiences that WSU incorporated into my academic curriculum truly gave me insight into how impactful community service is. Doing things such as assisting with community clinics like Bridges Health or running events sponsored by student clubs, they all had a positive impact on the community by allowing us to engage, educate and empower those around us. I think it’s through these opportunities that WSU truly makes a community of learners that seeks to improve our world in their own unique ways.

Why You Are Proud to Be a WSU Grad

I think I’m most proud of attending and graduating from WSU for the simple fact that I was able to do so. If it weren’t for the support and help given to me during the application process and while attending WSU, I don’t think I could have made it through. College is tough. You can paint it and look at it from any angle you want, but college is difficult. You can’t do it alone, and the fact that the WSU community was there to help me through it and help me achieve this milestone in my life is why I am most proud to have attended Winona State.

Words of Wisdom

Do not be afraid to ask questions. This applies to both in class and outside, but it is the latter that I would emphasize the most. I think many students fail to recognize how privileged we are to be surrounded by so many people from different walks of life and levels of expertise, each with their own unique experiences. So take advantage of this – take that risk, ask those questions and form those connections before it’s too late.

Winona State graduates experience a 95% job placement rate in their field. Many even land positions before graduation. Learn more about our 2019 spring graduates.

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