It was a proud moment for Joyce Rubio Alvarado as she recently earned her certificate of completion as a certified nursing assistant from Texas Southmost College during the program’s traditional pinning ceremony.

“It only took a nine-hour drive and a move to Brownsville to get to where I am today,” she said knowing that it took more than that to see one of her dreams finally come true.

In addition to being a TSC student, the 20-year-old is completing her general education diploma (GED) through the Adult Education program at the Brownsville Independent School District.

“I never completed high school, it was always a regret. I was on track to finish and go to college, but life threw me a curve ball,” said Alvarado. “But I’m glad I’m alive to tell my story.”

As only a teenager, the Tyler, Texas native was diagnosed with a rapidly growing teratoma tumor in an ovary requiring surgery and cancer treatments.

TSC CNA Graduate Joyce Alvarado

As I was going through surgery and treatments, I promised myself that I would become someone who would help others,” said Alvarado. “I know what it feels like to feel alone and scared, and I want to empathize with my patients, be there for them with compassion and let them know they’re not alone.”

She said going through TSC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program has put her back on track with new skills, a new vision and a career path.

“I went into the hospital with stomach pains and came out a cancer patient,” she said. “It was very scary, but I listened to my doctors and did everything I could to fight, including withdrawing from high school. I never wanted to drop out.”

Now two years later and cancer free, Alvarado is ready to conquer the world in the health care field inspired by her medical team during her hospital stays.

As a student, Alvarado was also able to complete hands-on training and clinical rotations at local hospitals, giving her the experience and confidence she needs to begin her nursing career.

Alvarado said because of her instructors and the training she received at TSC, she is ready to complete her GED, pass her assistant nursing licensing exam, start working and continue her education.

I highly recommend anyone looking to start a career in health care or needs to get back on their feet, to explore TSC’s CNA program,” she said. “This experience has changed my life, changed my perspective and my mindset to succeed.”

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For more information about TSC’s CNA program, email [email protected], call 956-295-3724 or visit