From Poverty to Paramedic and Beyond

Lizbeth grew up as the youngest of four sisters in Colombia, South America, and her family struggled for essentials such as food, clothes and health care. As a child, Lizbeth heard the same heartsick explanation from her mother each Christmas, “Maybe Santa lost or forgot our address.”

“Although we struggled, my mom taught me the best present was getting an education,” says Lizbeth, who dreamed of becoming a doctor, even though she had never been to one. One major obstacle stood in her way — money for college.

In 1999, she was fortunate to join her family who previously also immigrated to the United States. Speaking very little English, Lizbeth was fueled by the American dream and began taking ESL classes. She eventually became a paramedic.

“I knew I wanted to help others. I believe we as humans can help with our knowledge and even save a life. This is how I want to give back,” she says.

In 2015, Lizbeth decided to expand her career by enrolling in the Invasive Cardiovascular Technology Program, taught in cooperation with Florida State College at Jacksonville. After graduation, Lizbeth joined the Mayo Clinic staff.

In her role, Lizbeth prepares the patient for the catheter lab, electrophysiology procedures or interventional therapy. She also assists the cardiologist in surgery for such procedures as insertion of a stent or a new valve.

“I am beyond happy to be part of this amazing team who God gave the talent and the opportunity to save lives,” says Lizbeth. Now an American citizen, she looks back on her life and says, “I am fulfilling my version of the American dream.” ■

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