A Nurse And Her High Heels


When you want something, claim it! And the universe will conspire for you to achieve it. – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


In life, we all have someone who we look up to as our inspiration – inspiration in a sense that we are able to strive for a larger goal because we are inspired by that person’s achievement. However, the distress caused by a failure often leads one to believe that it is a downside, that we are not capable of reaching that goal, we assume (wrongly) that what happened once, will happen again; that we are paralyzed from that point on. We think that we can never achieve what our inspiration achieved. Yet, we fail to remember the old Filipino saying “think positive, ‘wag kang aayaw.”

That’s precisely the mindset of my personal idol, who, despite all the academic challenges and advances, rose victorious with flying colors. She is Paula Isabel Jareño, RN. She graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Western Mindanao State University last March 2012.

As a student, there are many things that you could involve yourself in: in-campus activities like campus journalism, student government, debate organization, cheering squads, and even athletics. But for one Paula Isabel Jareño or simply Paula, she would rather be with her nursing kit and girlfriends than stressing herself with other non-academic, insignificant other stuff.

Nursing students are always subject to toxic challenges and advances of which they must comply. Paula, though, did not saw those challenges as a detrimental element for her to achieve the goal she has in mind.

“I am a strong woman. Everything’s hard if you insist in thinking that they are hard. I guess the only hardship that I encountered during my college days was the disturbed sleeping patterns.” said Paula when asked about her hardships during her college days. “I am sleepy head. I personally need 8-10 hours of sleep. I had to adjust with the shifts for my duty and all the requirements I have to finish. And maybe the heavy feeling I carry with me every day for 4 years that I have to take the board exam after.”

She nearly had a problem with her proximity at the university. She lives 36 kilometers from downtown Zamboanga City. Being witty and with her intrinsic ability to live independently, she decided to get a boarding house near the university and faced the need to be away from her family for a brief period of time.

When asked if her being a sleepy head got in the way to attending classes especially those scheduled at 7am, she said “I was very serious with my studies. I think I was rarely absent. I think I was only absent 5 times since first year college.” And she dismissed the thought that there is someone behind her urge to wake up despite the stress.

At the end of her college days, she graduated with a huge smile painted across her face and with her family beside her. The happiness is tantamount to her efforts that have paid off, finally. But she isn’t done yet.

She is still to conquer one last challenge.

A nursing student’s greatest challenge is to pass the dreaded Nursing Licensure Exam (NLE). Paula had her doubts if she will be able to pass the board. “Absolutely everyone does” she said. “But my doubts were nothing compared to my confidence and faith. So it was like making a mountain out of a mole hill.”

There is a difference between other people who took up the NLE explaining the experience during the exam and experiencing it firsthand. Paula explained that the feeling while taking up the exam was surreal. “It was full of fears but full of faith as well. Like fear-faith ratio would be, typically, at least 8:10. Besides I don’t want to take the board twice. I have this attitude that I never take risks especially if I don’t know the outcome.”

Having said that, one would get the picture why she never run for student government or accepted the offer to join a school-based pageant even if she was given the opportunity a thousand times, primarily because Paula wanted it to be a sure ball. When NLE came, it was a risk she is required to take. “And when I say required, I mean REQUIRED.” she said.

When the result of the NLE 2012 was released, Paula found herself in cloud nine. It was as if she had found the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow. She described the moment as ecstatic. Taking the NLE is a risk worth taking then.

“Dang! Now I am officially unemployed and beyond my parent’s umbrella. I’m friggin’ broke. What’s gonna happen to my whims when it comes to the world’s material temptations? I should get a job. Pronto!” were her initial thoughts after passing the board.

She may seem to be a crazy, materialistic, girly, manic-depressive woman, but she is one hell of a woman that is determined and brave enough to take that mountain troll down.

She wasn’t able to graduate with the highest awards and she said that it’s something that she will dread for the rest of her life. But if she is to give a speech, it would go something like this:

God. He’s saved me from a lot of my troubles every day of my life. Most people today consider God a fiction in their lives. There’s high-altitude jet stream of thoughts for people who were confident that scientific and philosophical discoveries eradicated God. It is far less dramatic, but I have reached a place in my life where evidence of God’s involvement is so clear that I wonder how I ever could’ve missed it..

So even if I break my heart in many places, get smacked down by a lot of poignant experiences, and lose myself in the process, I lie still and breathe easily. Life is better lived when you drive it with purpose.”

Paula Isabel Jareño, RN is the epitome of perfection, sophistication, intelligence and class. She taught me a lot of things that she has no idea she taught me. I guess I will never be able to be like her – intelligent, classy, and almost-perfect in everything she does and say – but it doesn’t mean I will not be able to achieve my goals merely because I am not like her.


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