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Nursing student finishes degree after battling COVID-19

Recent Calhoun Community College graduate, Elizabeth Ovalle, fought against COVID-19 alongside her mother, all while earning her nursing degree.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Last year's spring semester was no ordinary one for Calhoun Community College nursing student Elizabeth Ovalle.

"I couldn't take it anymore, I went to the ER at Athens Hospital and I was admitted. Shortly after I was put on a ventilator and I was actually on a ventilator for about two weeks give or take," said Ovalle, recent nursing school graduate and COVID-19 survivor.

As her case of COVID was stabilizing, Ovalle received some bad news, someone close to her had the virus as well.

"My Mom was just a couple of rooms down the hall and she was also very sick with COVID-19, also on a ventilator," said Ovalle. 

So, while both were recovering individually, they were also busy worried about one another.

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"One thing is to go through it yourself but to just know that someone, that you really do care about is also battling it, it's just really heartbreaking," said Ovalle.

But keeping her Mom on her mind is exactly what pushed her to finish her coursework.

"My Mom is basically my number one motivator, supporter and I could just hear her in my head, 'you know, if you can do something and you have the means to do it, then to just go for it and do it.' So, I just heard her in my head and I decided to keep going and to at least give it my best shot. So, that's what I decided to do, even if she wasn't able to be there at the moment and tell me herself, I knew that that's what she wanted me to do," said Ovalle.

The nursing student ended up facing COVID complications after fighting the virus the first time and had to undergo lifesaving measures after going into cardiac arrest.

But she looks at the experience through a lens of positivity.

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"For me now to have that experience under my belt, I can relate to patients that are sick now at the hospital, and so I feel like that does give me an upper hand to just really be caring and to be able to just be apart of a team that takes care of patients, it's just so rewarding," said Ovalle.

And says when it comes to both battling COVID-19 and getting your nursing degree, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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