Helping is happiness

Photo of Karen Gomez Upegui

By Emmett Steele ‘22 - Journalism

Karen Gomez Upegui, a Personal Support Worker (PSW) 110 program student, has always dreamed of being a nurse and helping those in need. Karen travelled to Canada on her own to make her dream a reality.

“It’s a long journey for me. I’m an international student from Colombia; I just moved to Canada last year,” said Karen. “Since I was ten years old, my dream was to become a nurse. One of the ways for international students to get into the nursing program is to take advantage of the bridging pathway from the PSW to Practical Nursing program.”

While the nursing program is Karen’s true goal, she’s thankful for the experience and wider range of skills she’ll gain by completing both programs. “Going through both programs is great because when I’m a nurse, I won’t be afraid and will know how to communicate deeply with patients,” said Karen.

Karen has come to realize the importance of communication and the work personal support workers’ do to connect with patients through the time she has spent working in her field placement.

“I’m impressed a conversation and simple words can help people,” said Karen. “We help people a lot physically with things they may have trouble doing or aren’t able to do, but we help mentally as well. Words can be very powerful, and I think the attachment I have with my residents is very special.”

The time she’s spent working with residents and helping those in need has left Karen feeling hopeful for everything the future has to hold.

“Right now, I feel very happy,” said Karen. “This work is not just going to be my placement, it’s going to be my future, and I’m really looking forward to the nursing program. I just love medicine. I love to help people, and I think making them feel worthy and special is amazing.”

Karen will complete her PSW program in August and is already preparing to join the nursing program. “I start my nursing semester in the fall,” said Karen. “I still can’t believe it because I started the PSW program in January and now it’s already almost over.”

As she looks back on her time in the PSW program, Karen has advice to share with current and future students in the program.

“To future PSW students, don’t be afraid to reach out,” said Karen. “Reaching out is the only way you’ll be able to learn what you need to learn. It can be overwhelming and scary to ask for support from classmates and professors, but you need to learn to push yourself and take the risks.”