Nurse seeks adventure in all avenues of life

Nancy Abdo helps associate of arts major Laura Trujillo sign in Oct. 12 to the clinic at Eastfield.


For the last seven years, Eastfield campus nurse Nancy Abdo, her two children Sydney and Jonathan, and several members of her family have traveled to her hometown of Chicago for what has become a Labor Day weekend tradition: a 30-mile bike ride.

This past September, nine family members wearing matching jerseys were among the 16,000 riders in the Bike the Drive event that starts in the middle of Lake Shore Drive. “It’s gotten smaller as the next generation has gotten older, married and moved,” Abdo said. “It’s just a fun thing to do. None of us ride at the same speed. I have to ride by myself, but whatever, Chicago is beautiful, the Lake Shore is beautiful. That was the thing that my mom always loved: Lake Shore.” Abdo brings that same love and passion to her nursing job at Eastfield.

“I’ve been a school nurse my entire career and I actually kind of fell into it. Not sure it was what I wanted to do,” Abdo said. “But after doing it I realized that this is really what I want to do because I love the teaching part, I love the helping, the education, the wellness part and being able to help the students figure out how to manage their health care.”

Abdo moved to Texas at 21. Then at 40, inspired by her siblings and children, she decided to go to nursing school.

“My brother and my sister are nurses. They talked about it a lot and how much they liked it,” Abdo said. “After having some stops and starts with what I wanted to do, I finally settledon nursing, and it turned out to be the right thing.”

She graduated in December 2007 from Texas Woman’s University. She also took classes on four different Dallas College campuses: Brookhaven, Richland, North Lake and Eastfield.

Abdo earned her license in January 2008. Getting her first job as a nurse wasn’t difficult.

“For as long as I can remember there’s always been a nursing shortage,” Abdo said. “The toughest thing for me was figuring out what I wanted to do. I had applied for three jobs. I got offered three jobs. I just had to decide which one to take.”

She applied for jobs at two hospitals and a middle school.

“My kids were 6 and 9 when I graduated from nursing school, and school nursing had the closest schedule that was closest to theirs; they would be in school while I was working,” Abdo said.“Both of the hospital jobs that I was offered wanted me to start on nights. It wasn’t really a tough decision.”

Abdo has been a nurse for 15 years now. She started working at Eastfield in the Health Services Center as a college nurse in the summer of 2019.

Abdo’s goals in the center are to help students figure out how to manage their healthcare and provide them with any support they need.

“I want the students to know that if there is a barrier — if there is something that is making their education difficult, if there is something outside of education that is making education difficult — there’s not just Health Services, but all of the Student Care Network. Our goal is the same goal that everybody in the college has: to do whatever we can to support our students and help them be successful,” Abdo said.

Robin Manuel, who also works in the health center, describes Abdo as a go-getter. “When she has a belief or she has a thought that’s really going to help the students, she’s going to go for it,” Manuel said.

Manuel worked at Brookhaven for two months before transferring to Eastfield.

“(Abdo) was always my go-to when I first got here,” Manuel said. “Even when I was at Brookhaven, if I ever had issues, she was the first person that I would call. She’s always been the type of person that she’ll drop anything — as long as she doesn’t have a student right in front of her — and say, ‘Hey, what do you need?’”

Jaime Torres, a professional counselor at Eastfield, has seen the care and passion that Abdo has for students.

“She loves working with students and loves to educate them. She loves to talk about careers in nursing,” Torres said. “Any student that is thinking about becoming a nurse, she would be happy to talk to them about the kinds of nursing there is out there, about the degree or degrees you’ll need.”

He describes Abdo as smart and fun. While working together, he said they are always laughing and exchanging new ideas.

“She is very much loved and appreciated here at Eastfield,” Torres said. “She makes work fun, and it’s not just in Student Care Network. I think a lot of instructors would say a lot of good things about her, and our student success coaches as well.”

Abdo loves nursing, but she is also passionate about her family, pets, kids and the outdoors.

This past summer Abdo and her son Jonathan went on a three-week road trip. They headed to the Northeast and explored some of the national parks. They hiked, camped and tried new food. “We love trying new things, so the road trip was fantastic,” Abdo said. “I just loved it, and I love going with him because he’s the best navigator.”

It was Abdo’s first trip to New York. “My son had been in New York once and he wanted to go back to New York, so we had reservations there,” Abdo said. “And then I have always wanted to go to the Outer Banks, so we had reservations there as well. We had reservations for like eight of the 21 days. The rest of the time we just sort of wandered and we got to go everywhere. It was so much fun.”

When she retires, Abdo hopes to explore as she did on the road trip, buy herself a national park guide and start checking off more national parks and national monuments. She also wants to volunteer at a dog rescue.

“I was thinking I could combine those things because a lot of dog rescues need transport across the country,” she said. “National parks and dogs. I think they’re definitely going to be in my retirement somewhere”.