Graduate student’s journey, opinion featured in Texas Nursing Voice

An education is a powerful tool. It doesn’t just look good on paper. It also makes a real difference in the nursing profession.

It was a lesson University of Houston-Victoria graduate nursing student Angelica Ybarra learned firsthand and one that just earned her a bit of statewide recognition.

Ybarra was featured in Texas Nursing Voice, a quarterly publication of the Texas Nurses Association aimed at nursing professionals in the Lone Star State. In her article, titled “Nurse Ybarra takes action to support the “80 by ‘20” initiative,” she discusses her nursing journey and her opinion about the initiative. The “80 by ‘20’” initiative is a recommendation set forth in the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report to increase the number of nurses with baccalaureate degrees to 80 percent by 2020.

“I think this is something that will only strengthen the nursing profession,” she said, explaining that each lesson, course and degree provides a piece of the overall nursing puzzle. “And when you advance the profession, you strengthen our health care delivery system and improve patient outcomes. It really is a win-win.”

The Texas native harbored a passion for nursing early on. She enjoyed caring for others.

“Anytime someone in my family was injured, I wanted to help,” she said. “I guess it came naturally to me.”

She pursued her nursing dreams first with an associate degree in general studies and followed it with a Registered Nurse degree from San Antonio’s Baptist School of Professional Nursing.

When she started the Armstrong Atlantic State University’s RN to Bachelor of Science program in Savannah, Ga., a year later, Ybarra began to understand the powerful role higher education could play.

“I realized there was knowledge I lacked – some of the more in-depth information – that could help me provide more comprehensive health care,” she said. “I wanted a better understanding of the broader context of nursing practice.”

Ybarra forged on after her family’s return to Texas, working full-time nursing jobs, supporting her husband’s pursuit of undergraduate and graduate degrees and now law school, taking UHV graduate courses in the evening and caring for their two sons. That schedule has meant a lot of work, but it’s worth it, she said.

Ybarra recently started a new job in Austin as a nurse analyst. The family knows that after 8 p.m., mom is off-limits because she needs to study.

Born the seventh of eight children, Ybarra also enjoys spending time with her family, genealogy and looking back through her large family tree. Her research on has unearthed a surprise or two.

“I discovered my mom had some half siblings out there she didn’t know about,” she said. “They met for the first time last year. One was even a doctor in health care, so I guess it does kind of run in the family.”

Looking forward, Ybarra said her time at UHV is nearing its end. Just two classes remain, and she hopes to graduate in December with a Master of Science in Nursing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean her academic experience is over.

She might consider returning to school once more for a nursing doctorate.

“I love learning,” she said. “I love what I do. I’m excited that I’m so close to graduating, but I’m also looking forward to continuing.”

I am a Jaguar is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342