Armed with a Dream and a Deadline, Boise Practical Nursing program Grad Lashea Preciado Completes One Carrington Program, Begins Another
Never underestimate a woman with a dream and a deadline.
When 29-year-old Lashea Preciado enrolled in Carrington’s Practical Nursing program on the Boise, Idaho campus in January 2021, she was determined to become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) before her 30th birthday.
In December 2021, she turned that dream into a reality when she earned her certificate and passed her LPN exam. She’s now working as a clinical researcher at a research facility devoted to women’s health. She has returned to the Nursing Bridge program and is working to obtain licensure as a registered nurse, bringing her one step closer to a registered Nursing Bridge degree.
“When I first started classes at Carrington, it felt awkward—and even a little embarrassing—to be a 29-year-old woman in a class of mostly younger students,” recalls Leshea. “Some of my classmates were starting the program right out of high school and were 18 or 19 years old. But then I read that Florence Nightingale didn’t become a nurse until she 31. That was a perfect reminder that it’s always the right time to improve yourself and become who you want to be. We can all do great things at any age. It’s never too late.”
We talked with Lashea about her work in clinical research, why she recently returned to Carrington, and how she thinks pursuing her education is helping inspire her three children—ages 11, 9, and 7—to become better students.
How did you first hear about Carrington?
I’ve known about Carrington since I was in high school. My plan after I graduated was to apply to Carrington and become a nurse. But when I got pregnant with my first son, I needed to shift my priorities and put my education on the back burner for a while.
Fortunately, I had completed my CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certificate program while I was still in high school, so I was already on a career path. A lot of kids my age were working fast food or retail jobs, but I knew I wanted to work in the medical field. My CNA training gave me a head start.
I started out working in home health care and in hospice care. Then I worked in an OB/GYN office for over a year before I decided to take the Medical Assisting exam. The majority of people who take the exam go to school and complete an MA program, but it’s not required. I was pretty confident that my experience and on-the-job training had prepared me to pass the MA exam. As it turned out, I was right! Passing that exam really lit a fire within me to continue my education.
What appealed to you about the Practical Nursing program?
It liked that it was accelerated and focused so I could complete my certificate in as few as one year. The classes provided a valuable foundation and context for so much of what I was already doing on the job. It’s one thing to know how to do something, but it’s another to understand why you’re doing it and how what you’re doing fits into the overall treatment plan for a patient. I also appreciated the structure of the program. I felt like my instructors really knew their stuff and were committed to seeing their students succeed.
How did your experience at Carrington compare to what you expected?
I loved that the class size was small and we all got along and communicated well. Because of COVID, the first half of my program was taught remotely. Learning from home was a mixed blessing. In some ways, it seemed easier. But when you’re home it’s tough to separate your home and school life, especially when you have three kids in the house. You’re constantly balancing being a parent, a teacher, and a student.
I think the remote learning experience made the classes we did on campus feel all that much more valuable. Coming together in the classroom really helped create a sense of connection that I appreciated.
How do you think your pursuit of an education is impacting your kids?
My kids are very proud of their mom and they love that I’m going to school just like they do! We sometimes do homework and study together, which is a great way to spend family time. I think they understand the value and importance of education more because they watch me study and they see how serious I am about learning and doing well. Whenever they bring home an assignment they’ve done well on, we tape it to the refrigerator. My mother, who is also a nurse, does the same thing with my assignments. When we go to Grandma’s house and they see mom’s schoolwork displayed on the refrigerator, they get a huge kick out of it!
Where are you working now that you have your LPN credential?
I’m a clinical researcher, and I’m working for a research company that focuses on women’s health issues here in the Treasure Valley. We offer health screenings and testing that support women in accessing medical care. We create community events and work with local private care providers. Many patients are eligible for health studies or clinical trials that can reduce their financial burden by providing free medications and even compensating them for participating. And even if they’re not eligible to participate in a given study, they can often receive testing and a medical diagnosis, which gives them a head start when they go to their health care provider.
It’s not the kind of direct patient care most people think of when they become a nurse, but I know that what I’m doing is caring for people in a way that is improving their health and their lives.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of enrolling in the Practical Nursing program?
For me, the first steps—making the decision to apply and then actually enroll—were the hardest part. Making the decision to apply to any program requires more than commitment. It requires a degree of courage and self-confidence. You have to believe in yourself and have faith in your ability to meet the challenge and follow through, because your life is about to change. There’s a structure to all of it that can feel intimidating at first, but what I’ve learned is the support you’ll receive from friends, family, fellow students and teachers will help you more than you know. If it’s something you really want, you will make it happen.
So what’s next for you?
Right now, it’s all about maintaining momentum. I stopped school for 12 years, and now I feel like I’m back on track. I just started my Nursing Bridge program in April. Since I was already an LPN, I can complete the program in as little as a year. Then I can transition directly to Boise State University and complete my Bachelor in Nursing degree.
I’m working 30 hours a week during the mornings, going to school in the afternoons, and spending time with my family and studying at night. It’s a hectic schedule, but I love everything I’m doing. I know if I just stay focused and keep moving forward, it’s going to pay off and be worth all the energy and effort I invested.”