Delilah Carbajal nurses her own CAC success story

By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist

EASTERN PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Born in Silver City, N.M. and raised in Mammoth, Ariz., 42-year-old Delilah Carbajal is your quintessential "non-traditional" student at Central Arizona College's Aravaipa Campus. What is traditional about Carbajal, especially as an aspiring nurse, is her desire to help others.

Her story is that of a student who has maintained her buoyant personality and a tireless work ethic despite a lion's share of adversity around her.

"When the most difficult situations arose, I found it best to turn to fellow students and instructors," Carbajal declared. "There is always help. We are not alone in our trials and tribulations. Never give up."

A mother of an 18-year-old son, Carbajal has had plenty of opportunities to give up as she draws closer to fulfilling her seemingly lifelong goal of becoming a nurse. She has never given in, however, since attending Pima Community College in 1993 where she earned a nurse's assistant certificate.

Carbajal then worked at the same local clinic, in two separate stints, from 1993 until 2008, before enrolling in the nursing program at CAC in January of 2009.

"My family encouraged me to go back to school," Carbajal explained. "It was close to home so it was a perfect fit."

Aside from the typical rigors of a collegiate nursing program, Carbajal met adversity, almost immediately, as her family endured varying maladies. In February of that year, Carbajal's husband lost his job and remained unemployed until October. Two weeks later, however, her husband received even worse news - he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Life became a juggling act for Carbajal.

"At one point I was working on a BIO 181 project, helping a classmate with research for the project, and helping my husband through his cancer treatment."

Things began to spin out of control for Carbajal after losing her sister-in-law in November of that year, while her husband's kidney was removed in December.

"Going to my husband's appointments and trying to survive as a full-time student was tough," she said.

Financially, things weren't much better and came to a head last September when the Carbajals nearly lost their home to foreclosure. Thanks to help from United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the state attorney general, the family was able to maintain the roof over its head.

"Trying hard to avoid foreclosure proved to be a challenge. Turning to my friends, fellow classmates and instructors was my ultimate lifeline through this whole process."

Through all of these obstacles, though, Carbajal has weathered the proverbial storm, serving as a sort of role model for her fellow classmates.

"Delilah is always very helpful to other students," Dr. Beth Krueger, one of Carbajal's instructors, said. "She has been a leader in the classroom and on campus because of her kindness and willingness to cooperate."

Carbajal, on the other hand, views her role as that of someone just doing their part to foster a continuous learning environment.

"If someone needs help, I'm always willing to help them as they have been willing to help me. I like sharing my experiences with other students."

It is this kind of enthusiasm and positive attitude that Carbajal hopes to take forward with her as she embarks on her future career as a nurse.

" I enjoy helping others and look forward to helping others as a nurse someday soon."

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814