“It was like destiny,” says Charlene Archuleta, BS ’04, a master’s student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at University of Colorado College of Nursing. “I know it sounds really cheesy but during the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, I knew I wanted to become a nurse.”
Growing up in a small town in Southern Colorado, Archuleta learned the value of hard work from her father, a migrant farm worker. As a child, her father had to work after the harvest so he and his siblings could have simple necessities such as food.
That fateful summer, Archuleta was invited to visit the CU Health Sciences Center at 9th Ave. and Colorado Blvd. through a program for at-risk teens.
“I was placed—by AHEC— with a nurse practitioner in a migrant school,” Archuleta says. “And I decided that I wanted to make a difference the way that she was making a difference with those children. It seemed like a very reasonable way to pull in my life experience and my academic skills.”
After high school graduation she moved to Denver, earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and is pursuing graduate studies despite the financial barriers of school.
“I feel incredibly privileged to be working towards a master’s degree in nursing,” she says. “This is the type of success my family dreamed of but did not have the resources for.”
“I hold firm to my commitment,” she says. “As I realize that my long term goal of working as a family nurse practitioner for the medically underserved is to the maximum use of my life experiences and opportunities.”
Archuleta, a recipient of the 2011 recipient of the CU College of Nursing Alumni Association Scholarship, has spent her clinical career helping those in the community and mentoring her staff of medical assistants to become nurses themselves. She is currently a clinical nurse at Clinica Family Health Services.
“I have embraced my upbringing,” she says. “And I have used it to empower me to make a difference.”