Liliana Trespalacios’ path to nursing was sparked by a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Born and raised in Colombia, Liliana moved to the United States at 17 with the dream of becoming a doctor. However, life often takes unexpected turns, and Liliana found herself on a different path – this one leading toward nursing.
In her search for a nursing program, Liliana discovered Herzing University and their expansive nursing pathways. Here, she felt connected to a supportive academic community that recognized her potential and the unique capabilities she brought to the table. She established connections with the academic community at Herzing-Kenosha and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).
As the nation’s leading professional society for Latino nurses, NAHN represents the voices of Latino nurses across the country, committed to advancing health in Hispanic communities while creating and promoting opportunities for Hispanic nurses.
"The partnership between Herzing and NAHN has been a game-changer for me," Liliana shared. "It's not just about education; it's about accessibility. Through NAHN’s national scholarship program, I was fortunate to receive the Abbott Scholarship, which not only eased my financial burden but enabled me to give back to the community."
These partnerships not only open doors for educational opportunities but also create a sense of belonging and support within the Hispanic community.
"As a member of NAHN's Pre-Nursing and Mentorship committee, I've embarked on a mission to bridge gaps in education,” Liliana shared. “From the challenges of remote learning to the nuances of online education, I want to ensure that every generation of nursing students has a smoother journey than those who came before them."
Liliana's drive for success shines through her active volunteerism and participation in extracurricular activities. She's a proud member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, where she honed her leadership skills. On top of that, she's actively involved in the National Student Nurses Association on a national and local level, connecting with like-minded professionals who share her passion for making a difference in healthcare.
"There is so much value in seizing opportunities, and that's why I actively participate in volunteerism wherever possible,” she said. “It's a way for me to stay informed and give back to my field."
Throughout her coursework and career, Liliana has continually been reminded of two crucial lessons — healthcare isn't one-size-fits-all, and equity differs from equality.
"True healthcare equity goes beyond equality; it involves understanding and accommodating individual needs based on cultural and genetic differences," she emphasized. "Equality is like giving everyone the same bike, but equity ensures that the bike fits you because what works for one person may not work for another. The same principle applies to healthcare; we need equity, not just equality. Every individual's journey to their goals is as unique as their fingerprint, but the beauty lies in the countless paths we can forge to reach our destination.”
One of Liliana's most significant strengths as a nurse with Hispanic roots is her ability to connect with patients with similar backgrounds on a deeper level. This natural connection fosters greater empathy, improves patient trust, and enhances positive health outcomes.
"In the growing Hispanic community, having healthcare professionals who mirror this diversity is not just beneficial; it's essential,” Liliana said. “We need professionals who can understand and connect with patients from various cultural backgrounds to provide the best care possible."
Liliana also stressed the importance of cultural competence training in healthcare education. She understands that it's not just about understanding the medical aspects; it's about recognizing and respecting the diverse backgrounds of patients — that greater cultural awareness allows for greater community service.
"As our educational landscape evolves, it's more important than ever to address the representation gap that many students have experienced,” Liliana continued. “For others and me, educators can be the catalysts for change by becoming the role models that students need to see to believe that healthcare is a diverse and inclusive field. This is what creates future healthcare providers."
As she becomes a catalyst of change for future professionals, Liliana continues to volunteer and participate. As a member of the NSNA Leadership U Honor Society, she has been identified as someone who others can look up to. Additionally, whether it is medical mission trips or international shadowing programs, Liliana continues planning to build her knowledge through experiences at a global level.
"My passion for helping people will always extend beyond borders," said Liliana. "I'm excited about the possibility of influencing future generations — and not just here at home, but everywhere I can go."