For someone who’s all of 26, Mercy College student Sofia A. Faulkner (Sanchez Soler) has had more life experiences than many people twice her age.
Since immigrating to the United States from El Salvador in 2000 with her family, she has lived in five states: New York, North Carolina, Texas, California, and since 2004, Iowa, where she attended school from six grade through graduation from Waukee High School.
She’s had even more jobs, having worked as a barista, in mortgage banking, as a beer promoter and bartender, as a nurse’s aid, in hospital ER admitting, in a law firm, and as a phlebotomist. She’s always worked at least two and sometimes three jobs at a time, in addition to going to school.
But of that great variety of jobs, those in health care called to her, so much so that she took a pay cut to leave an 8-to-4:30 job at a law firm just minutes from her house, to work as a nurse’s aid at Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines in the acute rehab department. She has recently accepted a position in the Cardiac/Surgical ICU (CSICU) - "I have really enjoyed the CSICU unit so far, and I am ready to learn more about the critical unit, which I am starting to love! "
“It was hard for me to let that law firm job go, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do in the long run,” she says. Watching the ER nurses in action really appeals to me. I like the fast pace and the adrenaline. It’s really incredible what ER nurses can do,” she says. “And I appreciate how doctors and nurses work as a team to give their patients the best possible outcome. It’s just such a family.”
Faulkner’s connection with Mercy College began in 2011 when she took some classes. She returned in 2013 with help of the Iowa Pathways program, earning her nurse’s aid certification. The Pathways program has been amazing,” she says. “I saw a poster about it at Mercy Medical Center that led me to research the federally funded educational program offered via Mercy College, and even though there were a lot of steps to apply, I’m so glad I did.”
This year, she began work toward her BSN, which she expects to finish in December of 2017.
She’s also been accepted to the Mercy Scholars program, for people who have worked at Mercy Medical Center for at least six months. The program pays half of her tuition, and for every two semesters, she owes the hospital one year of service.“It’s a privilege to have that help, and I’m so grateful,” she says.
She is enjoying her studies and names Dr. Susan Brown as one of her favorite Mercy College professors so far. “I had her pathophysiology class, and just love the stories she tells. It really makes the subject come alive,” she says. “She also has the cutest little girl, who was there once when she was sick.”
She says everyone at the college has been helpful, welcoming, and “very engaged,” making sure her DMACC credits transferred, and notes that Joe Brookover in financial aid also helped her quite a lot. “And Mercy College has great tutors to help you with homework—it really does help!” she says.
Faulkner got married in January of 2015, and her husband, Andrew, just earned his bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology from ISU. He plans to start law school in January. For fun, they enjoy working out five or six times a week, and also love to watch movies.
She applied for U.S. citizenship immediately after getting married, and received her two-year temporary residency in December. After two more years, she can apply for permanent residency, and only then permanent citizenship. "There is a lot of paperwork and expense—it can cost up to $2,000,” she said. “It takes some time and patience, but the process has taught me a lot.”
With her work ethic, determination and desire to make a difference, Sofia Faulkner is well on her way, and Mercy College is proud to call her a student.