For Antonio Abreu Almaguer, pursuing his passion of medicine has become his lifelong mission. “I have always wanted to be a doctor,” Antonio shares. “I love learning; studying history and all of the sciences were my favorites in school. In Cuba, I was on the pre-medicine track. I had just been accepted into medical school when I found out we were coming to the U.S. While I was elated to come to America, I felt like my educational dreams were put on an indefinite pause. When we arrived, I was 18 years old and barely spoke any English.”
Antonio came to Louisville in 2015 with his parents after fleeing his native Cuba and began receiving case management services from KRM. “We wanted a better life,” he says, “but I was truly starting over.”
Eager to learn, he started taking English classes at KRM. He also enrolled in the JCPS Adult ESL Program and spent several years learning English.
“It was a long journey for me to learn English, but I was determined,” he says. “I never gave up because for me, every new day was a new opportunity.”
Antonio also started attending KRM Rise Up college preparatory events to prepare for enrollment in higher education.
“One day, I went with KRM to visit the University of Louisville,” he describes. “From the first time I stepped foot on campus, I knew this was where I was meant to be.” After first attending Jefferson Community and Technical College, Antonio transferred to the University of Louisville as a nursing student.
“I decided to become a nurse because I love hands-on work where I can help people,” Antonio explains. “In college, I started working at UPS and became a trainer for other refugees and immigrants. Working at UPS opened so many doors for me. They not only helped me pay for my education, but through a UPS partnership with Norton Hospital, I was able to join a nursing apprenticeship program.”
Now, as a graduating senior in his final semester, Antonio has already accepted a job as a cardiac nurse at Norton Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit.
“Finding a career you are passionate about is so meaningful,” he says. “Through my studies and nursing clinicals, I have learned that this work is miraculous. This is how I want to invest my life.”
Story by Adrienne Eisenmenger. Photo by Thalia Almenares.