CFCC Student Spotlight: Celine Irasubiza
CFCC student Celine Irasubiza and her family lived in a refugee camp in Rwanda for ten years before they were selected to immigrate to the United States. The family, which included Celine, her parents, and four younger siblings, traveled to Wilmington, NC, to start their new lives.
Upon arrival in the U.S., Celine and her family spoke little English. Celine and her siblings enrolled in public school and began adapting to American culture and learning to communicate with their new community.
Listening to residents, classmates, and media, Celine quickly learned English and became the interpreter for her parents. Her speaking skills also helped her secure a job, which allowed her to contribute to the family’s finances.
Celine is also a caregiver for her family during sicknesses. While living in Rwanda, her youngest brother became ill with malaria; Celine cared for her brother while her mother worked. She even joined her mother on two-hour bicycle rides to the hospital for visits.
Taking on the role of a nurse in her family inspired Celine to pursue a career in nursing. She started with nurse aide (CNA) classes in high school and is now enrolled at CFCC in the Medical Assisting program. Her ultimate goal is to achieve her Associate Degree in Nursing, but she is pacing her advancement as she continues to master the English language.
Celine’s determination to adapt and succeed caught the eye of Hoggard High School Teacher Mary Maroudis. Maroudis mentored Celine and encouraged her to take the CNA courses. In a scholarship recommendation letter, Maroudis complimented Celine’s tenacity to excel.
“Celine marvels at the opportunities that education gives her and takes every initiative to complete her assignments on time and to the best of her ability,” wrote Maroudis. “Celine possesses the drive, passion, and grace to overcome any obstacle to learn and pursue her dream of becoming a registered nurse.”
Celine took time between classes to share her experiences at CFCC with us.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO ENROLL AT CFCC? WHY DID IT MAKE SENSE TO YOU?
I heard many people say that Cape Fear has a really good nursing program. I couldn’t afford to go to a four-year college because I didn’t have money for it. But I have financial aid to come here; the campus is close to home, and I can’t leave my family because they need me. My mother still does not speak English, so I must be close to interpret for her.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE MEDICAL ASSISTING PROGRAM?
I needed a stepping stone to get into nursing. So I decided to start with the medical assisting program. Then I can work in healthcare and gain experience and knowledge.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE PROGRAM AT CFCC.
It’s challenging, of course, but I’m enjoying it. The first semester is more of an introduction to the field. I look forward to doing more hands-on work. We now pair up with a classmate and practice taking vital signs.
Next semester, we will coordinate with other programs to practice. The pharmacy technology students will join us. They will teach us how to do dosage calculations, and we will practice taking their vital signs.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION?
I do want to apply to the nursing program. But first, I want to get some work experience. I can also learn while I’m working in healthcare. I will get to interact with different people. That’s a way of learning, also.
I love kids. Since I’ve been a mother to my younger siblings, I want to work in a pediatric office.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE CONSIDERING STUDYING AT CFCC?
I would tell them to go for it. Cape Fear Community College will help you. It has been great for me; definitely do it.
CFCC’s Medical Assisting program allows students to learn medical, clinical, and administrative skills while earning a diploma in medical assisting. To learn more about this healthcare career option, visit CFCC Medical Assisting .