Goodwin ABSN Student Completes His Degree While His Wife Undergoes Cancer Treatment.
As a young boy growing up in the Philippines, Mickel always wanted a career helping and caring for others. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a nurse,” says Mickel. But as a young adult, his career plans changed when he joined the Philippine Army, serving his community in a different capacity and earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Still, his dreams of a career in nursing never left him.
Then in 2002, Mickel saw first-hand what it meant to work in healthcare when he met a nurse who would later become his wife. Mickel was hospitalized with injuries from an operation in the army — Leigh Ann was the army nurse charged with his care. “I was a captain in the army. My wife was a military nurse. She was taking care of me, and we had a connection.” Despite his injuries, being hospitalized renewed Mickel’s dreams of someday becoming a nurse.
Starting a Family and Moving to the United States
Mickel and Leigh Ann were married in 2003. Their son, Jethro, was born in the Philippines in 2004 and they moved to the United States in 2006. The couple would go on to have a daughter, Jenna, in 2008 while living in the U.S. Mickel began the long journey toward a career in nursing by first becoming a dietary aid and later working as a CNA in a nursing home.
Even though Mickel had earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science while serving in the army, he still was set on becoming a nurse. In 2012, he began a nursing program at Naugatuck Valley Community College. With just one year left before becoming a registered nurse, Mickel and his family received the devastating news that Leigh Ann had breast cancer.
Breast cancer affects more than 264,000 women each year in the United States. The treatment for this type of cancer often leaves women unable to work because of the side effects from chemotherapy. “I had just one year left to go, but I had to quit the program. I worked three jobs to help us survive because my wife was out of work,” said Mickel.
At the time, their children were eight and four years old. Mickel put his goal of becoming a nurse on hold to care for his two young children and his wife, all while working multiple jobs to support his family.
After finishing her treatment, Leigh Ann returned to work as a nurse, and Mickel decided to try going to school again, this time for computer engineering. “After a year and a half, I went back to school. I thought computer engineering made sense because of my background in computer science, but deep down I still wanted to be a nurse.”
Mickel eventually left his computer engineering program because he felt like nursing was his true calling. In early 2019, Mickel learned of Goodwin’s Nursing programs. “When I heard that Goodwin was offering multiple nursing programs, I was excited. I applied to the ASN and ABSN programs, and I was accepted into the ABSN program,” Mickel said.
The ABSN program is designed for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field and are looking to switch to a career in Nursing. The ABSN program allows students to earn their bachelor’s degree in Nursing in as few as 16 months full-time .
In September 2019, when his kids were 12 and 15, Mickel started the ABSN program at Goodwin University, determined to finally become a nurse and have the career he had wanted since childhood.
Unfortunately, at the same time, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. Right after starting the ABSN program, Mickel thought he would have to stop again. “I almost gave up, but the program director, Dr. Friday, encouraged me to stay in the program. She told me that I belonged to the Goodwin family now, and they would help me and give me the support I needed to finish my studies.”
Becoming a Nurse
This time around, things were different for Mickel. After having helped his younger siblings finish college and move to the United States, Mickel now had the help of his brother and sisters to look after his children while he worked and studied to become a nurse. Even with help, watching Leigh Ann undergo cancer treatment was challenging.
“Going to school and seeing my wife sick was very difficult. I felt hopeless, but Goodwin encouraged me to finish nursing. My professors told me to let the doctors and nurses care for my wife, and in the future, when I became a nurse, I could care for patients like my wife. It was just what I needed to push forward.”
In addition to the support from Goodwin faculty and staff, Mickel’s peers stepped up when his family needed it the most. Mickel’s classmates began a meal train, providing his family with nightly meals so that he could focus on his studies. Mickel’s wife had to endure multiple surgeries and aggressive treatment to battle the recurrence of her cancer. Having the support of his nursing cohort was critical to Mickel — allowing him to stay in the program and achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a nurse.
How Are Mickel and His Family Doing Today?
Mickel finished the ABSN program and passed his NCLEX in June 2021. Soon after, he stepped to the frontline as a nurse during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing patient care alongside his wife at Hospital for Special Care in New Britain. Leigh Ann is now in complete remission and works as a nurse for patients in long-term rehab.
Mickel recently left Hospital for Special Care to join Hospital of Central Connecticut as an operating room nurse. “While exploring my nursing career, I decided that I wanted to be in the operating room. I love my job, and I love my patients,” says Mickel.
Mickel’s son, Jethro, is 18 and studies Biomedical Engineering at UConn. His daughter, Jenna, is in high school.
Future Career Plans
Mickel plans to further his skills and education as a nurse by earning his master’s in Nursing (MSN). He also wants to become a certified nurse anesthetist. He hopes to begin his MSN at Goodwin soon. “I have so many connections at Goodwin. Pursuing my MSN there just makes sense.” Mickel also wants to help other students become nurses. “My clinical advisors were so encouraging. I’d love to give back by mentoring future nurses.”
“Goodwin is part of my family.”
It takes tremendous persistence and resolve to earn multiple degrees, let alone when your family is going through a battle with cancer. Even still, Mickel says he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of Goodwin. “Without Goodwin, I wouldn’t be a nurse. I owe my career and my future to Goodwin.”
When asked what he would say to others in similar circumstances, Mickel says, “Just keep moving. Stay motivated, love yourself, respect the people around you, and have faith. With just a little bit of sacrifice, you’ll achieve happiness in the end.”
Meeting Our Students Where They Are
While the details of their stories may change, college students around the country set out to achieve their career goals only to face personal setbacks in their lives. With the right support in place, Goodwin students like Mickel go on to conquer their career goals every year.
Goodwin gives you the personal and professional supports you need to get through college and into the career that you deserve.
Interested in a career caring for others? Reach out to us to learn more about our Nursing programs today!