North Alabama nursing student earns degree while battling coronavirus

Seeing how the nurses treated both her and her mother strengthened Elizabeth's call towards nursing.

Posted: May 10, 2021 5:52 PM
Updated: May 10, 2021 7:06 PM

A recent graduate from the Calhoun Community College nursing program experienced first hand all that nurses do when she contracted coronavirus last march.

Elizabeth Ovalle has always wanted to help others.

"Ever since I was a child, I've wanted to get into something that would help people out, so the first thing that I always thought of when I was a kid was to be a nurse," says Ovalle.

As an Athens native, Elizabeth enrolled in Calhoun immediately after high school back in 2017. She said, "once I'm dedicated with something, I want to keep going, you know, as long as I try."

But her dedication to nursing was put to the test last year.

"March of last year is when I started having difficulties with my breathing and up until the point where I couldn't really take it any more is when I decided to go to the ER," explains Ovalle.

She was diagnosed with coronavirus and put on a ventilator for two weeks. When she woke up, her first reaction: "I was like wow, so two weeks that I've missed school."

After her initial reaction, her patient care gave her more grim news.

"He told me that my mom was only a couple rooms down from where my room was and I could actually see the tubing and stuff outside of her room," said Ovalle.

Her mother was also on a ventilator only a couple rooms away. With that in mind, she was determined to keep up with her school work.

"I thought of my mom and how she was always encouraging me to do all the things that I want to do," says Ovalle.

Seeing how the nurses treated both her and her mother strengthened Elizabeth's call towards nursing.

"Just to be part of that workforce. I realized that nurses really do so much for the community and I wanted to be part of something that, you know, helps the community out," she said.

Elizabeth's symptoms relapsed about two months after her diagnosis and she had to go back on the ventilator for one week. However, now Elizabeth and her mother are both doing well. In fact, Elizabeth graduated from Calhoun back in December and is now a registered nurse at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. She received the Most Outstanding Student award from Calhoun nursing faculty for her dedication and commitment to nursing.

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