Julieta Carrillo marked her 11th birthday aboard a bus, traveling with her family from Jalisco, Mexico to Los Angeles, in pursuit of a new life in the United States. Her parents were determined to seek a bright future for their children, and Julieta is working hard to live up to those dreams today.
Now 22, Julieta is enrolled in the Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) Program at Napa Valley College, a program she’s grateful to have been accepted to on her first application. Julieta is only one of two Napa-based students in the program, with other students commuting in from the wider Bay Area and Sacramento regions.
She’s determined to stay local after she graduates, and she hopes to find work at a local hospital, like Queen of the Valley. Julieta is also among the first batch of students to earn Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Healthcare Scholarship, an award made possible by Queen of the Valley Foundation, and which benefits Napa County residents enrolled in nursing and respiratory therapy programs at Napa Valley College or Pacific Union College.
Soon after high school graduation, Julieta embarked on her healthcare journey by becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and has been working at a private assisted living facility for the past two years. She’s gotten to know the residents really well during her time there, and she loves the environment. “I want to make a difference. I’m always wanting to go to work – I like helping out.”
Julieta’s resilience shines through, always finding hope amidst challenges. Even while working as a CNA, she channeled her energy and aspirations into continuing her education at Napa Valley College, sharing, “I always knew I wanted to be in some kind of nursing program, so I started investigating and found the LVN program at Napa Valley College, and I knew it was the right path forward. I was really grateful to get accepted into this one.”
Julieta’s drive to enter the healthcare sector is deeply rooted in personal experiences. She elaborates, “During the toughest times in my life, I’ve believed that if I could positively impact the lives of those close to me, things might have turned out differently.”
She’s bringing her personal drive to her clinicals — on-site rotations at Queen of the Valley Hospital and the Veterans Home of California in Yountville — where she formed deep connections with patients, bridging cultural and linguistic gaps. She recounts a heartwarming interaction with a blind patient, “We found out he’s from 10 or 20 minutes away from where I grew up in Mexico. Because I could talk to him in Spanish, it made him feel more comfortable. He didn’t have any family to visit him, so I feel like I helped him with what he was going through.”
Julieta’s bilingualism is not just a skill; it’s a gift. It allows her to serve as a bridge in healthcare settings, ensuring patients receive the care and understanding they deserve. Reflecting on this, she shares with pride, “My dad was right. It’s always good to know two languages.”
Life for Julieta is a balancing act between family, work, education, and self-care. She admits, “It’s hard. I stress all the time. But I try to balance it out.” Having a strict schedule helps, “When I go to school, I dedicate my time just to school. I only work nights, and I try not to work Saturdays and Sundays. So all my stress goes away on Saturday and Sunday. Despite that, I am still trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym, and always making sure I prioritize my mental health.”
And her final secret to managing it all? “Sleep! I always ensure I get my hours of rest, too!”
The scholarship was not just financial aid; it was a symbol of recognition for Julieta. She recalls the moment she learned about the award with a mix of surprise and gratitude, “Honestly, I applied never thinking anything would come from it… I felt very, very fortunate to get the scholarship.” Her message to donors is profound, “I hope they can read my story and know that they are making a difference. Thank you for that.”
Queen of the Valley Foundation believes in supporting students like Julieta, who will advance the nursing profession through their continuous pursuit of knowledge and dedication to delivering high-quality care to the Napa Valley.
“Nurses are the heart of our mission-driven work at Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center, giving their time, skills and expertise to provide exceptional care to all,” said Rachael Poer, president and CEO of Queen of the Valley Foundation. “Our donors want to champion future nurses in our community in order to build a pipeline of knowledgeable and experienced caregivers that will benefit the Napa Valley and beyond.”
At Napa Valley Community Foundation, we’re honored to witness and support Julieta’s inspiring journey, filled with determination, resilience, and ambition.