Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso is celebrating the Hunt School of Nursing’s 10-year anniversary in 2021. TTUHSC El Paso invites the community to participate in a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses and highlight the challenging conditions they often face in the workforce. In celebration, we invite you to get to know some of our Hunt School of Nursing staff who are shaping the future of health care for the Borderland. They are dedicated to excellence and committed to care.
This month’s highlight features Laura Rodriguez, R.N., M.S.N., instructor for the Hunt School of Nursing.
Growing up in the neighborhood next to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, Laura Rodriguez, R.N., M.S.N., instructor for the Hunt School of Nursing, has seen the area grow and change over the last 30 years.
“I grew up down the street from campus, and I know the community well because I’m a product of it,” said Rodriguez. “While resources can be limited, the desire to live a healthy life is still an aspiration. The addition of TTUHSC El Paso to the 79905 ZIP code offers access to health care in a multitude of ways, like health fairs, clinics and perhaps most important, educational opportunities.”
Rodriguez graduated in 2007 from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology. She became a science teacher in the Socorro Independent School District then switched career paths in 2008 with the birth of her daughter.
“A young nurse found a heart murmur in my daughter,” said Rodriguez. “A monitor was placed on her without any real explanation of what was going on or what might lie ahead. Our family went home and spent an agonizing weekend full of fear and uncertainty as to what would happen. The congenital heart defect resolved itself; however, the fear and anxiety I felt motivated me to pursue a career in nursing. I wanted to better understand what was happening to my loved ones while helping others find the same comfort about their conditions.”
That year, she became part of the Texas Tech family when she attended TTUHSC in Lubbock, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2010 and a Master of Science in nursing in 2014. She’s currently pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy in nursing from the University of Texas at Tyler with an expected graduation in December 2021. Since 2015, she’s been an instructor with the Hunt School of Nursing.
“My favorite part about being a nurse is my ability to interact with and serve my community,” Rodriguez said. “My favorite part about being a faculty member at the Hunt School of Nursing is my ability to contribute to the future of nursing. I’m grateful that every student I teach has the ability to reach and serve the community.”
Rodriguez recently used her science and nursing background, and enthusiasm to educate others, to provide accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and promote TTUHSC El Paso vaccine drives to surrounding neighborhoods. She went door-to-door and to surrounding businesses, encouraging community members to get their vaccination while answering questions and calming nerves.
“On the evening of the first TTUHSC El Paso community COVID-19 vaccination clinic, we expected to administer somewhere upward of 400 vaccinations,” Rodriguez said. “Unfortunately, not everyone was able to make their appointment. Standing in the vaccination clinic with about 40 vaccinations to go, I decided to venture back into the community with the permission of Dr. Lange to recruit individuals. My journey started in a small laundromat at the Fox Plaza shopping center where I was able to recruit, among others, a young couple expecting their first child. Before I knew it, I had approximately 15 to 20 community members from 79905 willing to take the vaccine. Our evening ended when we returned to campus at 11:30 p.m. with just two doses left.”