Before she was a nurse, Katerra Lozano worked in customer service for a decade, working first as a waitress and then up the ranks at Hertz. Originally from Nebraska and Oklahoma, Katerra moved to Texas in 2008, managing Hertz’s Houston International Airport branch.
But in 2009, life took an unexpected turn. “My sister was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer,” says Katerra. The tragedy caused her to rethink her life, and listen to the advice of her sister, who passed in January 2010. “I took care of her and spent a lot of time with her in the hospital, and it made an impact. She and I talked a lot about me becoming a nurse because I am that person who enjoys taking care of people.”
Loving “every second”
A teenage mother, Katerra always wanted to go to college. However, life got in the way and when two additional children came along, it was difficult to move anything off the plate to make room for school. After her sister’s passing, Katerra was determined. While continuing to work full time, she earned an Associate Degree of Nursing in 2014. She got a job in a pediatric clinic, then moved to Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital and started working toward the BSN at Ameritech College, graduating in 2017.
“I love every single second of what I do,” says Katerra, who is still with Memorial Hermann. She spent two years as a medical surgical nurse before moving into management in the medical surgical unit and the neurostroke unit but is now back at the bedside in the observation unit. “There are no words to describe what it is like to impact someone’s life by offering them great nursing care. My sister envisioned that for me, and I’m grateful for that. My job is hard, but I go back every day because it fills my heart.”
A born leader
From the very beginning of her nursing career, Katerra has been drawn to mentoring other nurses. To ensure she is equipped to pursue leadership opportunities, last year, she decided she wanted to get an MSN. “Our hospital holds Magnet designation and that drove me back to school, but it is definitely something I’m driven to do. “I tell my children not to do anything halfway, and that’s how I want to be in my career. If I’m going to be a nurse, I’m going to be the best nurse I can be.”
Discovering American Sentinel University
Katerra was diligent in her search for the right university and interviewed admissions representatives and faculty at four different colleges. She compared price, accreditations, curriculum and more. “American Sentinel won for sure,” she says, adding that the fact that the university also offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice, which she’s considering after she completes the MSN, was a big bonus.
In 2017, Katerra started the MSN, nursing leadership and organizational management specialization. “It’s been a great experience so far,” she says. “The teachers are knowledgeable, the library and other resources are great, and I’ve been very pleased with the support.” When Houston was hit with Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, in fact, American Sentinel offered Katerra and other Houston-based students the opportunity to drop classes without penalty—something she fortunately did not have to do. “I was stuck at work for four days and then stuck in our home for four days, without internet access. Thankfully, we did not have major damage to our home, but I really appreciated that American Sentinel cared about its students during that period. They wanted to work with me to help me stay on track.”
A great influence
As she moves through her MSN and makes plans for her career, an unexpected benefit is the influence she is having on her own children, especially her 17-year-old and 13-year-old. “It’s been lifechanging for my kids to see their mom in school,” she says. “My oldest wants to be a pharmacist and my middle child is already thinking about college. I’m happy that they get to be a part of this. I want them to know that their education is so important, and because I’m in school, the advice is meaningful.”
Inspired by Katerra’s story? Inspired by Whitney’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or case management. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.