Ever since she was 5 years old, Ashleigh Ramirez wanted to be a nurse, just like her
mother Lorena. Later, when Ashleigh was in high school, the mother and daughter
team had a plan: When Ashleigh graduated from high school, she would take nursing
courses at the Midland College Williams Regional Technical Training Center (WRTTC)
in Ft. Stockton and then she would work at the McCamey Hospital with her mom so that
her mother could give her hands-on advice.
“When COVID hit in the spring of 2020, I was a senior at Ft. Stockton High School,”
Ashleigh explained. “I think that a lot of people who were thinking about becoming
healthcare professionals decided to pursue another career because of the dangers.
However, COVID didn’t change my plans for a minute. In fact, it made me more determined
than ever to become a nurse. My mother said that hospitals everywhere needed help.
Becoming a nurse like my mom was something I could do to help people when they needed
Unfortunately, the plans that Ashleigh and Lorena had made came to a tragic end on
February 12, 2021, when Lorena was killed in an automobile rollover on the way to
her job at the McCamey Hospital.
At the time, Ashleigh was taking courses in the Vocational Nursing program at the
WRTTC. She was just about half-way through the year-long program.
“I was devastated,” Ashleigh recalled. “I wanted to quit nursing school. All of
the plans with my mom were suddenly gone. Nursing school is difficult, but my mother
was always there to help explain things to me and to keep me going. There were days
when I didn’t sleep because I would be studying all night. I was running on caffeine.
Then when my mother passed away, it just didn’t seem to be worth it any more.
“Fortunately, my family encouraged me to stick with it. They said that this is what
my mother would have wanted. I’m glad I listened to them. Now, I can carry on her
legacy of being a skilled, caring nurse.”
Lorena Ramirez also attended nursing school at the Midland College WRTTC. She completed
the vocational nursing program in 2001 and worked as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
for several years before going back to Midland College to complete the Associate Degree
Nursing program, and she became a Registered Nurse (RN) in 2013.
Ashleigh is now following in her mother’s footsteps. When she completes the nursing
program in August and takes the state licensed vocational nursing exam, she plans
to work for a year or two as an LVN in Ft. Stockton while she completes prerequisite
courses for Midland College’s Associate Degree Nursing program.
“It’s nice that I can stay in Ft. Stockton and continue with my studies and training
to become an RN,” Ramirez said.
During the course of her training, Ramirez has completed skills in various clinical
settings. She said her favorite so far was in the Emergency Room.
“I like the fast-paced environment in the ER,” she said. “There’s always something
to do and lots of variety—from stomach aches to bad accidents. So far, my proudest
moment was putting in an NG [nasogastric] tube myself. I was nervous when the doctor
and nurse told me to do it, but I got it done on the first try!”
Besides her vocational nursing courses, Ramirez also took advantage of Midland College
dual credit courses through the WRTTC when she was in high school. She took English,
government, history and algebra, so she is well on her way to earning an associate
degree. She still needs to take two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology before she
can be accepted into the Associate Degree Nursing program.
Ramirez explained that she is very close to her family. In fact, her favorite pastime
is being with her grandmother and four-year-old niece Annalise, who also wants to
be a nurse when she grows up.
“The three of us make a strange team—all different ages,” Ashleigh said. “My grandmother
says that Annalise and I keep her young. I say that Annalise and my grandmother keep
me staying positive. In fact, my whole family has been a great support system. I
couldn’t have done it without them.
“Then there’s the Ft. Stockton community and the McCamey Hospital District. They
have been absolutely tremendous during the past few months. They were there with
hugs, food and prayers when we needed it. I’m so glad that soon, as a nurse, I will
be able to give back to these people in my community.”
Photo: Ashleigh Ramirez with her grandmother and niece.