On Thursday, Feb. 18, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, Casa Nissan and L&F Distributors proudly announced that Hunt School of Nursing student Angela Lopez was chosen to receive a complimentary one-year lease of a 2021 Nissan Kicks.
For Lopez, a first-year nursing student, the use of the vehicle could not come at a better time. Like many college students, she does not own a car and has been commuting to school on a bicycle.
During the third week of nursing school, Lopez put on new red scrubs and white shoes, an old bicycle helmet and rode to the TTUHSC El Paso campus.
“My tire got caught in the railroad tracks, and I flew off my bike,” Lopez said. “There I was on the ground, regressed into childhood with scraped knees and bruises. Riding my bike had me practicing my nursing skills with what I call high-fidelity simulations: being the nurse and the patient.”
She spent her first two months as a student commuting by bicycle through treacherous El Paso traffic, but after listening to a lecture about Maslow’s hierarchy – a theory that people are motivated by five categories of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem and self-actualization – she realized her life and safety are top priority. She started asking family members and friends for rides in their cars to school. As an 18-year-old from a humble background, car ownership for her was just a dream.
“A year-long free lease on a new Nissan would completely change my nursing school experience,” said Lopez, who’s in the school’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “A car would give me the liberty to concentrate solely on my education and maximize my time as a nursing student. I wouldn’t have to worry about who would be giving me a ride to school every day.” Lopez often arrives to school early and stays on campus many extra hours to accommodate the schedules of relatives offering her rides. This can make for long days and requires good planning so that nothing is forgotten such as supplies and meals since there is not much within walking distance of campus.
Lopez is the second Hunt School of Nursing student to receive a complimentary one-year lease of a Casa Nissan vehicle. In July 2020, the dealership presented a lease to student Emmanuel Muniz.
On hand to present the vehicle to Lopez were TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A.; Hunt School of Nursing Dean Stephanie L. Woods, Ph.D., R.N.; Ronnie Lowenfield, Managing Partner, Casa Auto Group, and Nick LaMantia, L&F Distributors’ Owner and General Manager-West. Lowenfield and LaMantia are members of the TTUHSC El Paso President’s Development Council.
Muniz’s story from last year inspired LaMantia to make the game-changing gift of paying for the one-year lease for Lopez.
“When I heard Muniz’s story of having to sell his car and the sacrifices his family was making to serve our community, I knew it was important to step up and support our future healthcare heroes. Providing a gift to cover a vehicle lease is a unique opportunity that has practical benefits for a nursing student who is trying to help out others during the pandemic. It’s easy to take for granted things like transportation but there are many students like Ms. Lopez who just need a little boost to complete their nursing degree,” LaMantia said. “It’s a win win for our community when we can give back to those who are working hard on the frontlines.”
Lopez graduated in June 2020 from Valle Verde Early College High School where she completed her prerequisite courses through El Paso Community College while in high school, allowing her to apply for admission into the Hunt School of Nursing’s ABSN program.
The Hunt School of Nursing’s early admission program, available at Franklin High School, Silva Health Magnet High School and Bel Air High School, allows students who enroll in the program to be given conditional acceptance to the Hunt School of Nursing’s Accelerated B.S.N. program. By taking prerequisite college courses while in high school with EPCC dual credit courses, they will be on track to earn their B.S.N. in just 16 months after high school graduation.
“I decided to apply for the ABSN program during my junior year of high school,” Lopez said. “My counselors thought I was crazy, but I would do it all over again if I had to. I’ve learned many things, but most importantly I’ve learned to enjoy this profession – especially during the hard times.”
Throughout 2021, TTUHSC El Paso will celebrate the Hunt School of Nursing’s 10-year anniversary and its contributions to higher education, health care in the Paso del Norte region and combating the critical shortage of nurses in West Texas.
Since opening in 2011, the school has educated more than 800 nursing students, with the majority of its graduates staying to practice in the region. The state of Texas is projected to face a shortfall of nearly 16,000 registered nurses by 2030, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Casa Nissan is El Paso’s premier Nissan dealership. They are a member of Casa Auto Group, a family of dealerships that have been a trusted part of the El Paso community for over 50 years and are committed to redefining the car business by serving others, doing what is right, and valuing people.
L&F Distributors began as a family business with a single location in McAllen, Texas and less than 20 employees. Today, L&F Distributors owns eight distribution warehouses, and is the primary beer distributor along the Texas border with Mexico. L&F represents mega-brands from the Anheuser-Busch family, including Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob, in addition to over one hundred and fifty craft and import breweries, and an extensive list of wine and spirits. They employ more than twelve hundred people and are deeply involved in the communities in which they operate.
Check out our gallery of photos from the event: