Discovering a Career Path

Lucia Peralta’12 arrived at Beloit without a long-term plan. Support from advisors and peers helped steer her to a career in public health.

Lucia Peralta?12 and a colleague in the clinic Lucia Peralta’12 and a colleague in the clinicLucia Peralta’12 wakes up daily to a job she scarcely perceives as work. As a family nurse practitioner at a community-based clinic in Austin, Texas, her hometown, she and her colleagues treat acutely ill patients of all ages, from newborns to adults.

“I’m surrounded all day by people who are working to empower patients to lead healthy lives. That makes me happy. Plus, every day is different and engaging, and I enjoy living in the same neighborhood as the clinic. I regularly run into my patients in the grocery store,” she reports.

When considering her college choices, Lucia knew she’d do better at a small institution where personal connections and individualized attention could keep her on track.

Lucia Peralta?12, center, with colleagues at Dell Seton Medical Center Lucia Peralta’12, center, with colleagues at Dell Seton Medical CenterBeloit College was unfamiliar before a college counselor suggested it, but a campus visit confirmed “this is it.” Lucia observed small classes and found faculty, staff, and students approachable. “They were easy to talk with.” Plus, on Beloit’s small residential campus, she’d always have access to people. Beloit’s student services were strong and programs supporting first-generation students, including McNair scholars, enhanced Beloit’s appeal.

That’s not to say earning a degree from Beloit was easy. In fact, she reports that it was ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” However, when she graduated from Beloit, Lucia understood herself as a learner, knew how to study, and could grasp and apply complex concepts. Nursing school “was easy in comparison”.

While Lucia struggled with some classes, faculty supported her. “Ranjan Roy, my math professor, sat with me after class when I wrestled with the material. We used a white board to work through proofs one-by-one until I got them. I think I nearly drove Ken Yasukawa, my professor for biostatistics, to tears when he worked with me to make sure I didn’t fail the class. Ultimately, I earned a C. Something stuck though. When I later took social statistics, I did much better.”

Lucia Peralta?12 in a woodworking studio Lucia Peralta’12 in a woodworking studioProfessor of Spanish Sylvia Lopez, who both taught Lucia and served as her host family, refused to allow her to underperform. “Sylvia made me rewrite papers over and over until I got things right. Later I realized she was trying to teach me to learn and to grasp concepts. My other professors were doing the same thing.”

Lucia was tempted to quit more than once, but, as she recounts, “Beloit doesn’t let you. The other students, advisors, and faculty keep offering support and encouragement. They push you to reach your potential. The McNair director, Aurora Chang, guided and supported me as I thought through various situations, brainstormed possibilities, and made decisions about both academics and life outside the classroom. Although Dr. Chang is no longer at Beloit, she is still there for me.”

Lucia does not think she would have received this kind of attention had she not attended Beloit College.

Lucia majored in Spanish and in Health and Society, and took courses in other fields, including anthropology, sociology, economics, and studio art. Today she continues to draw and has taken up woodworking. “Drawing allows me to process my emotions, and making my own furniture gives me a lot of satisfaction.”She also continues to plays tennis, as she did at Beloit, coached by the legendary Bob Hodge, whose primary role at Beloit was teaching American history.

Lucia Peralta?12 enjoying the great outdoors Lucia’s advice for current and future Beloiters? “Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. College is a great time to explore and find your interests. I didn’t know I wanted to go into nursing before I came to Beloit. Nor did I know how to learn. Beloit gave me opportunities to explore career options and discard those that didn’t suit me, such as becoming a physician or researcher.

Beloit it taught me to love learning, and I could be active outside of the classroom, working as a resident assistant, playing tennis, participating in Greek life by joining Theta Pi Gamma, or simply taking advantage of the many activities that took place on weekends. Take advantage of your Beloit education to find out about yourself and become a joyful, life-long learner.”

Elizabeth Brewer
May 02, 2022

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