After first exploring a civil engineering degree program at a major state university, Merced College’s current Student of the Month decided that becoming a nurse would be more fulfilling.

“I started college after being accepted at Cal Poly SLO for Civil Engineering out of high school, but decided that was not for me and I came home to Merced College to start on my nursing education,” said Catrina Cortez.

Known as a serious and dedicated student, Cortez maintains a 3.81 grade point average in what is a very demanding academic schedule.

“As a rule of thumb I discourage most students from taking both human anatomy and human physiology at the same time as they are both demanding and time consuming subjects,” said Biology professor Dr. Cary Coburn.  However, Catrina took on this challenge with gusto, and at the end of the day was a top student in both of these classes. This accomplishment speaks to her capacity to dedicate herself to learning difficult material and her ability to manage time wisely.”

Biology professor Debra Conte notes that Cortez is a model student who sets a high bar for her fellow classmates.

"Anatomy is a difficult class with a high dropout rate and yet Catrina excelled,” Conte said.  “It was near the end of the semester when I found out that she was also enrolled in Dr. Coburn’s Physiology course. I was impressed.  To attain high grades in both of these courses concurrently is quite an achievement.”

Cortez manages to balance a demanding academic work load with the equally demanding role of wife and mother.  She credits Merced College for providing an environment in which she could grow as a student and as a person.

“I want to thank Merced College for giving me a strong foundation to reach my goals,” the Chowchilla resident said.  “This college has allowed me to work hard on my education, learn valuable life lessons, and be close to home to take care of and be a role model for my son and husband.”

With five successful semesters completed, Cortez plans to transfer to CSU Fresno to complete her bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

“It has been a dream of mine to not only to have my education, but to work in the nursing field to help those in need and be a contributing member of society,” she said.