Q&A: Nursing student shares life lessons learned from family

Jackie Huerta at the Asian Star, the restaurant her family owns in Dallas. Photo by Chantilette Franklin/The Et Cetera

Student, waitress, homeowner—Jackie Huerta is only 21 years old, but she has already experienced it all. Following in the footsteps of her immigrant parents, Huerta is working toward becoming a nurse and an investor. Huerta sat down with Et Cetera contributor Johnson Tran to discuss her experiences, goals and how she balances her responsibilities.


Q: Are you interested in doing something in the medical field?
A: I’m almost done with my prerequisites for nursing, then I just have to study hard for the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) in order to get accepted into the nursing program.

Q: What made you decide on that field?
A: Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a cardiologist. I’ve always had a passion for helping other people. Getting into nursing would be the first step. I just honestly love how nurses are always there with the patient. As a waitress, I’m always asking my customers, “Is everything OK? Is there anything I can get for you?” And I’m not saying being a waitress and being a nurse is the same thing, but you’re there for the patient/customer, always making sure they are doing 120%. I always like to give amazing customer service, so I know that nursing is something that will suit me, because I love making sure people are doing OK. Also, my grandmother recently passed away due to cancer, so that just motivates me even more.

Q: Do you have plans to advance in your field?
A: I actually want to specialize in neurology for nursing. Then, if I want to continue my education, hopefully one day I will become a doctor.

Q: Do you have any tips or advice for students interested in nursing?
A: Never give up and always study very hard. There’s times where you want to give up, but everything is possible if you really set your mind to it.

Q:  What are some of your hobbies?
A: I work out. It is a relief from everything, especially with COVID. I am a student and I have also worked full-time, so sometimes it’s hard to juggle both of those things together. And I recently became a homeowner, so that’s more stress.

Q: How did you manage to get your own home?
A: Years of saving up. It’s so easy to waste your money on little things like food. A nice meal just for yourself, 20 bucks, adds up every day. So honestly, it took a lot of saving up, a lot of sacrifices from eating out. I would always have to think twice about purchasing something. My parents have been very supportive. I know not many people have the opportunity to have parents that don’t charge them rent to live with them. So I’m very thankful that my parents have never charged me a dime. They truly support me and want me to succeed.

Q: What do you for a living? How are you able to afford the house?
A: I work at a restaurant. It’s actually my parents’ restaurant. I’m a waitress and assistant manager. I do a little bit of everything. I’m very thankful to my parents for giving me the job that I have. I’m also a student, so sometimes I need to study, and they give me that opportunity to go. With COVID, tips haven’t been really good, but I still try to save as much as I can.

Q: How have you been balancing school, work and life?
A: It’s really hard, especially because everything is online. I’ve had professors who don’t do live classes. You just have to email them and they don’t respond until 24 hours later. With work, it can be challenging. I’m there from 10 in the morning all the way to 10 p.m. So, I’m basically there all day, and the days I have off are the only days I get to study and be in class.

Q: Do you have any family members you look up to?
A: Definitely my parents, because my parents are immigrants. My mom is from El Salvador, and my dad is from Mexico. They literally came from nothing, especially my mom. She didn’t have a dime with her when she got here. My dad and my mom met here in the United States, and they have four houses. They rent them. And then their house and a restaurant too. So my immigrant parents came from nothing to literally living the American dream. They help out my family in El Salvador and help out my family in Mexico. They’re always giving back.

Q: What are some important values they’ve taught you?
A: To always respect others. My parents have always taught me, if someone is being disrespectful to you, just move along with your day. And, of course, to always have faith in God. Having faith in God puts you in really good hands.

Q: Are there any goals or plans you have set?
A: Besides nursing, I also want to become an investor, like my parents. I want to have multiple homes, rent them out, make money out of them. My dad plans to retire sometime soon. My dad works seven days a week. If he’s lucky, he’ll get maybe two days off in a month. I want him to retire because I’m ready to take care of my parents. They have taken care of me for 21 years, never charging me a dime to live with them. So I want to make that happen for them as well.

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