Karirma Santana’s story is one of resilience, determination, and perseverance. Being a single mother, she has overcome significant obstacles to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. “My ultimate goal is to do well by all people, to care genuinely, and also be a part of the change I wish to see in the world,” she says.
Karirma was born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania. Having a child at 16, she knew she needed to do everything possible to provide the best life for her daughter. With the support and encouragement of her family, Karirma moved to Florida in hopes of creating new opportunities for her and her daughter. “My parents had always wanted to move to Florida,” shares Karirma. “When I graduated high school in 2014, we left for Florida the very next day.”
When Karirma and her family moved, her daughter’s father remained in Pennsylvania to finish schooling. However, in 2015, Karirma’s life took a drastic turn when she learned of his passing. This sudden event left her as the sole parent of their 2-year-old daughter. Despite facing daunting challenges, she immediately knew that she wanted to start college to provide her daughter with a great life and a world of opportunities. “Although I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I was determined to embark on this journey,” she said.
Karirma began her college journey in 2016 at LSSC, where she enrolled in one class at a time while working full-time and paying out of pocket. Being the first in her family to enroll in college, Karirma shared that she did not know much about the process. “I didn’t know about financial aid at first; I was simply just trying to find my way.” With the help of financial aid and scholarships, she slowly increased her course load until she graduated with her Associate of Arts (AA) degree magna cum laude in December 2020.
Karirma is incredibly grateful to the LSSC Foundation and their support of student success through scholarships. “I truly would not be where I am today without the help of scholarships,” she shares. “As a young mom, there’s truly no words to describe how much they changed my life and helped me continue to reach my educational goals.”
After years of working and studying, Karirma’s hard work paid off when she was accepted into LSSC’s A.S. Nursing program in February 2021. “I broke down in tears when I received my acceptance letter,” she shared. “I realized then that I was not just a young mom and that it didn’t matter what had happened in my past.” She is now in her final semester and is on track to graduate in May 2023.
Like many students, Karirma’s journey to becoming a nurse has not been easy. She credits the staff at LSSC for their unwavering support and guidance throughout her college journey. Karirma’s favorite class has been Maternal Child in nursing school, where she discovered a passion for labor and delivery.
Karirma’s advice to anyone considering enrolling at LSSC is to take advantage of the many opportunities the school has to offer. “The staff is always willing to help students in any way they can, and the experience will help students grow academically and personally as well.”
Thanks to the support from LSSC, Karirma can boldly say that she is the first college graduate in her family. “After graduating from nursing school, I will be the first in my family to not only attend college but also receive two degrees,” she proudly said.
After graduation, Karirma’s career goal is to become a Registered Nurse. “I want to eventually take the steps to obtain my Bachelor’s, Master’s, or maybe even become a Nurse Practitioner but at the moment I am taking it all one step at a time.”
To learn more about the A.S. Nursing Program, visit lssc.edu/academics/associate/nursing/