Nursing graduate thanks her family and friends for getting her to the finish line

May 2, 2022

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

At just 12 years old, Ana “Juli” Rincon got her first taste of what a future in healthcare might look like. The Tucson native has volunteered at a nonprofit organization that specializes in integrative care for children living with chronic illnesses and their families.

Ana “Juli” Rincon’s list of accomplishments at ASU is long and impressive, but not without challenges.
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“They provide healing modalities such as reiki, massage therapy, chiropractic work, and various other non-invasive healing modalities not only to children but also to their families,” Rincon said. “This includes their caregivers and siblings. Their model is one of care for the whole person, the whole family and the whole community.

Six years later, Rincon began earning a nursing degree from Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. Her volunteer time inspired her major and the minor she chose. This spring, Rincon, who is also a student in Barrett, the Specialized College, will earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a minor in Integrative Health. Her honors thesis blended her two passions: Rincon established a student-run chapter of holistic nursing on campus, in partnership with a national organization called the American Holistic Nursing Association.

“We created a chapter with two initiatives: one of them is our talking circles, which are essentially student-run support groups,” Rincon explained. “And we can talk about everything from the stress of a test to the stress of a relationship.”

The second initiative involved wellness workshops. The chapter has teamed up with local specialists, including a reiki therapist, herbalist and yoga instructor, to share their different modalities.

“It’s really about being able to connect with each other and build community,” Rincon said.

Rincon’s list of accomplishments at ASU is long and impressive — even more so when you learn that in the fall, she was dealing with severe depression and graduation was the last thing on her mind.

“I lost my best friend in 2020 to fentanyl poisoning, and I think it all started to pile up,” Rincon said. “My family gave up everything and came to live with me. They helped me get therapy, bought groceries and cooked for me, so I could focus on myself.

Rincon’s friends also stepped in, making sure to check up on her and let her know they were there for her whenever she needed them.

“I owe a lot of my success to my support system and the help they gave me when I was at my lowest. I’m so grateful to them.

After this experience, Rincon is more aware of the mental health issues facing her peers and others and shares in this Q&A session that this is the issue she would tackle if she received $40 million.

She also reflects on her time at ASU and her plans for the future, which are looking brighter than ever.

Question: What did you learn at ASU – in class or otherwise – that surprised you or changed your perspective?

To respond: Little did I know that I was going to have the continued opportunity to collaborate with students from other majors, and I would say that was a highlight of my time at ASU. We have placed greater emphasis on the importance of interprofessional collaboration. We have had the opportunity to collaborate with respiratory therapists, pre-med students and social work students.

I think in the midst of this pandemic, it’s become more apparent to the general population across the country and around the world that to achieve optimal longer-term health outcomes, we need to work together to treat all aspects of the patient.

I loved being able to collaborate with other students from different health majors because you learn from each other. A nurse’s way of thinking is very different from a doctor’s, and it’s fun to bounce off each other. As a nurse, you spend the most time with your patient outside of the healthcare team, so you have insight few other members have. You really are that patient advocate, and it was a very humbling experience.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I actually chose to come to ASU because of the honors program. Although I was really interested in a career in nursing, I loved the idea of ​​being able to explore other areas as part of the specialist program as well.

I loved attending the classes and being able to think more philosophically rather than in the traditional logical science aspect of nursing. I think it actually helped shape me a bit more specifically as a nurse. Although it is a scientific field, I am also able to integrate the more humanitarian and emotional aspect of health care.

Q: Which teacher taught you the most important lesson at ASU?

A: I was fortunate to have so many great teachers during my time at ASU, but I have to say that Dr. Dawn Augusta, who was also my thesis director. She has been an incredible mentor, having started as a nurse and then moved into integrative health and education. She is also one of the most empathetic people I have ever met.

I actually looked forward to going to office hours with her because no matter what was going on outside those doors, as stressed as I was, I walked in there and sighed, like I was just relaxed . And before getting into anything, she would say, “How are you? How are you really? And I could feel her listening and caring about who I was, not just as a student, but as a human being.

And that’s something I learned from her: we’re all human and we all have struggles going on, so being able to respect each other and get along with each other helps a lot in living in harmony. It’s a huge life lesson for sure.

Q: What is the best advice you would give to those still in school?

A: As far as a nursing program goes, it’s such a rigorous major, so I encourage students to remember to enjoy other pursuits. I’m not saying you have to pursue a minor or anything, but if you have the opportunity to take a course in a field that you’re really passionate about, do it.

I think part of becoming a successful nurse is making sure that we enjoy our lives, that we have a good quality of life – especially in college, when it’s a great time to try new things and live different adventures. So I would say enjoy it, join the club or take a fun class and do something for yourself that isn’t just about your career path.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I spent most of my nursing education at the Mayo Clinic, as I was part of the Mayo cohort, and loved my time there. I met and learned from an amazing group of nurses, so I hope to work there as a new graduate in the nursing residency program.

My long term goals include applying to the Peace Corps in Central or South America because I am bilingual. My native language is Spanish, so I would love to be able to use that skill and practice nursing in Spanish-speaking countries.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve a problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Oh, definitely sanity. There is such a need in so many different aspects. There are financial barriers, lack of access, awareness and insurance that does not cover treatment. There is still a gap in how mental illness is viewed versus physical or chronic illness, even though mental health can be completely and utterly debilitating to the individual. So I would focus my efforts there.

Edward K. Thompson