Student finds his way to STC’s nursing program after tragedy
After surviving a car accident, STC student Enrique Rodriguez is grateful for a second chance in life, looking forward to become a nurse and take care of others the same way he was cared for during his treatment and recovery.
South Texas College Nursing student Enrique Rodriguez had just started classes when tragedy struck.
One month into his education, in September 2021, Rodriguez’s car was hit by a vehicle that was speeding at over 90 mph during a police chase. He suffered a traumatic brain injury. His chances of survival were slim to none.
“To me, it’s all just a blur, everything just went black. It truly just felt like my spirit left my body,” Rodriguez said about the accident.
The 20-year-old McAllen native was put in an induced coma after undergoing multiple brain and lung surgeries.
“While I was in a coma, I dreamt very vividly. I still remember. A lot of it was very dreadful and scary,” said Rodriguez. “I kept hearing repetitive commercials on TV and the constant noise of the medical machines. I was too confused to understand anything while in that mental state.”
After a couple weeks, Enrique woke up, and then spent another 15 days in the intensive care unit recovering from his injuries. He was finally discharged from the hospital a month after the accident.
“Everything is foggy until the point when I finally I woke up. I remember the doctor flashing a light, but I didn't move. I had no reflexes at all and the right side of my body was paralyzed,” he said. “I didn't have any extreme memory loss, but my short-term memory and motor skills were severely affected. For example, on the surface I felt like when I saw my parents, I was too confused to know who they were. But in the back of my mind, I knew exactly who was there.”
My situation brought a large group of people together, it's honestly overwhelming.There's many people who have shown their love and support and I know this experience is going to help me become a better nurse, a more understanding nurse.
After spending months in recovery relearning basic skills like walking, talking and even eating, Rodriguez chose to major in Nursing with a new appreciation for patient care.
He said he feels immensely grateful for the patience and support he received from the medical staff during his treatment and recovery.
“I was trying to relearn things that I’ve always known, I couldn’t believe I just couldn’t do these things anymore. I'm very grateful. I have a lot of love for everyone that was there for me,” Rodriguez said. “It's an experience that I never thought I would go through and I wouldn’t wish on anyone else, but there's a part of me that believes that maybe I needed this to happen for some reason.”
Before the accident, Rodriguez was evaluating his career options. He was interested in Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Civil Engineering and Nursing, but after his near-death experience he’s convinced that taking care of others the same way he was cared for is his future.
Today, Rodriguez has found a new sense of life and shares his experience with his STC peers, which always includes a positive note about appreciating all the little things people take for granted.
“My situation brought a large group of people together, it's honestly overwhelming,” he said. “There's many people who have shown their love and support and I know this experience is going to help me become a better nurse, a more understanding nurse.”
He expects to receive his associate degree in Nursing in 2025 and is excited about helping people heal, remain optimistic and hopeful, even through a tragedy.
For more information on South Texas College Nursing and Allied Health programs, visit nah.southtexascollege.edu or call 956-872-3100.