When Sonny Aguilar went to college out of high school at Boston University, he was excited, and he admits now, maybe not quite ready. “I failed within one semester because I was just ill-prepared for college-level course work,” says Sonny, who is from Riverside, California. He returned to California over Christmas break 2007 and started taking classes at Santa Monica Community College.
United States Air Force
At his community college, Sonny met an Air Force recruiter and started going through the process to apply. He was accepted in 2011. “The military gave me structure and direction, and a great start to my career,” he says. He received training to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist in 2014 and started working. Sonny also became a Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist.
At the same time, Sonny started taking his nursing school prerequisites at the Community College of the Air Force. He earned an Associate of Science in Cardiopulmonary Science in 2013 and after transitioning to the Air Force Reserve, joined the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014 as a charge respiratory therapist.
A nursing school scholarship
Sonny continued working on acquiring the prerequisites for nursing school until 2017, when he moved to Arizona and started a BSN program at Chamberlain University. By then a father of two young children, Sonny says the BSN took dedication, but he reached the finish line in 2019. Along the way, he started working at HonorHealth, a level 1 trauma facility, as a PRN respiratory therapist.
Soon, Sonny was considering getting an MSN degree. “Ever since I chose nursing as my profession, I wanted to become a CRNA nurse anesthesiologist,” he says. “To get there, I wanted to get the MSN first. I researched a lot of schools and found American Sentinel University.”
Checked all the boxes
American Sentinel’s MSN Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership appealed to Sonny for many reasons. “The school has a very affordable tuition rate for military students and I really liked the look of the curriculum,” he says. “I also liked the frequency of the classes and the people I spoke to.” In October 2019, Sonny’s decision was made. He enrolled at American Sentinel.
Today, Sonny is working toward the MSN Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership. At HonorHealth, he moved to the critical care unit in late 2019, which was hit hard in the spring and summer by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Being in school during COVID has actually helped me out a lot,” he says.
Future plan: CRNA doctorate program
After finishing the MSN Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership, Sonny wants to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Anesthesia. “My goal eventually is to work my way into some type of hospital leadership position,” he says. He hopes to graduate from American Sentinel in early 2021 and begin the DNP application process in late 2020.
Deployed to Qatar
Sonny’s plans for 2021 have been turned upside down, however, as he has been deployed by the Air Force Reserve to Qatar for April 2021. He will serve as a flight medic.
The change in plans is something that he will work around, and he’s grateful to American Sentinel for its flexibility thus far. “I have two young kids and have been working during a pandemic in critical care, and I just appreciate that American Sentinel is so great about understanding that working adults in school have many responsibilities,” he says. “The experience has been great so far, just like my nursing career. There are always challenges along the way, but they strengthen me for whatever I do next.”
Inspired by Sonny’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, or infection control. 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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.
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