Bianca Gonzalez Accepted into U.S. Navy Nurse Candidate Program
By Vukasin Petrovic ’20
On occasion, you get to meet people whose ambition is merely awe-inspiring and whose determination exceeds the limits of human capabilities. When one is standing in front of such incarnate perseverance, they can only be astonished and impressed while listening to Bianca Gonzalez’s tale.
I struggled to find the correct words to record her story—her achievement seemed so great that I almost doubted my ability to do it justice. But it helped that I knew Bianca and that she was a friend. This allowed for a quantum of informality through which Bianca could properly inform me about the arduous process that was getting accepted into the U.S. Navy Nurse Candidate Program.
“It’s a selective program,” she said. “Selective enough that, if you get in, you might become an officer at the age of 20. It will help me finance the rest of my academic career without having to worry about money.”
I inquired as to what was necessary even to apply. And then she began the long explanation of how one applies and what is required. Somewhere in the middle of the explanation, Bianca had to pause, seeing the visible shock on my face.
“It’s a long process,” she said.
It begins by calling general recruiters and trying to get a hold of medical recruiters, who will later connect you to nurses. Jumping through all of these hoops, Bianca needed to provide the same set of answers each time, responding to questions regarding her GPA, four-year academic plan, physique, motivational statement, and letters of recommendation.
“I ended up submitting some 14 letters of recommendation. I had to submit two per every job I’ve ever had,” Bianca said.
To be able to appreciate the extent of what Bianca has managed to do, I referred to her motivational statement.
“Parlier is where I learned to be proud of where I came from,” Bianca wrote. “It is a small town in central California, population 15,250. Most people work day and night to provide for their families, and my family is no different. My dad often works six days a week to help pay for my sister and me to finish college and get degrees. People say I’ve worked hard to get where I am today, but I got my work ethic from my parents. My father stated that he left Mexico to better his life, and I left central California to better mine.”
Growing up, Bianca learned and understood the importance of hard work and a good work ethic. This was evident in how she approached the aforementioned monstrosity of the application process. Reaching the recruiters, gathering all of the necessary information, providing it to said recruiters and then the ones that come after them and then the ones that come after the second ones, while working two jobs and finding the time to spend with her family and friends seemed like an impossible task. But Bianca knew what she wanted to be when she grows up. She knew what she wanted to be, and she knew what she had to do to achieve it. The whole endeavor is supposed to last six months. Bianca did it in three.
“I knew I wanted to do this since I graduated high school. Then I took the actual steps of getting there after my sophomore year of college.”
When asked, why wait until the summer of your sophomore year to apply, Bianca replied that she could only apply once she was actually in the nursing program at St. Francis College. That happened in her sophomore year. Additionally, Bianca is a Division I water polo student-athlete. Her season spans the Spring months, and she said that there wasn’t much time to apply before summer due to her water polo and academic obligations.
Bianca, who maintained a high GPA in high school, also led her water polo team as the captain in her junior and senior years, serving as a role model for the younger students. She then joined the Terrier family. Her contribution to the team has been much appreciated by the women’s water polo coaches Alana Burgess and Bora Dimitrov, some of the people Bianca approached to provide the necessary recommendation letters. Carl Quigley, former Assistant Director of Athletics and Aquatics Director, said the following regarding the California native:
“Bianca’s importance to our team cannot be measured by her athletic ability alone. As Bianca matured, she developed a quiet leadership. She is always eager to accept the responsibilities that comes along with being a part of a team. As Bianca is emerging as one of the leaders of the team, she is helping to unify the group into a cohesive unit and keeps the team focused on their goals both in the pool as well as in the classroom,” noted Quigley.
Bianca completed the rigorous process in just three months. “I made the call as soon as I got home. I told my recruiter that I have to be back in New York by the end of the summer. That meant that we had to wrap up the entire application, as fast as we could. We pulled it off,” said Bianca.
In doing so, Bianca was a part of the small group of individuals who managed to secure their spot against 200 other applicants for the officer development school where she will go upon graduation. She would then have to take her NCLEX. Upon receiving her results, she will go on to attend the Officer Development School in Rhode Island, something only available to those with a college degree. That lasts five to seven weeks.
“You get to compile a list of the places where you would like to be stationed. My top three choices are South Cal, North Cal, and Washington, D.C. But I can be sent anywhere from Japan to Puerto Rico. I wanted to stay close to home, but we’ll see where I end up. I’ll definitely stay wherever they send me for the first four years,” she explained.
Bianca, who juggled her athletic and academic obligations throughout the semester, had to keep doing that throughout the summer. She was working two jobs while applying last year.
“My mom helped me with the whole thing. One day I was frustrated and said, ‘I can’t do this. I have work, and then I have to go to work.’ So, my mom sat me down and told me to give her the numbers of recruiters and that she’ll get it done.”
Much like her father was an inspiration for Bianca’s ambition, her mother helped her get through the tough times.
“She told me that if I want it enough, I’ll do it. She wasn’t forcing me. But she realized that I know I want it, so she pushed me not to give it up when it got hard. She made me realize that it is hard because it is worth it.”
And Bianca did push through it. Through working two jobs, the semester, all the questions repeatedly asked and answered. She made her family proud and proved herself along the way. In recording Bianca’s tale, I realized that it is a story of perseverance but also that of family bonds and unity.
Much like she guided the new generation of women in her high school, and as she will go on to do at St. Francis, Bianca was guided by her role models: Gina and Juan Carlos Gonzalez. And that is why Bianca will be joining the U.S. Navy upon graduation as an Officer.