Isaura Jimenez ’17 arrived with her family in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when she was six years old.

With hard work and determination, she adjusted to a new country, culture and language with help wherever she could find it. And in the end, she excelled.

Jimenez completed her undergraduate nursing degree in 3½ years, passed the national licensing exam and is working as a nurse at Mary Immaculate Nursing/Restorative Center in Lawrence.

To top it off, the state honored her as one of “29 Who Shine,” an award program that recognizes 29 outstanding student graduates from the Commonwealth’s public higher education system.

The secret to her success? Learning how to look at adversity as a challenge to overcome rather than a roadblock.

“You have to be resilient and know when to ask for help,” says Jimenez.

A Lawrence resident, Jimenez took three buses to get to UMass Lowell, but she knew it was worth it to get an education.

“My mom and dad came to this country 20 years ago, and because they didn't speak the language or have college degrees, they worked in factories doing manual labor,” said Jimenez. “I would see my mom come home every morning exhausted after working the night shift, and yet she still made time to spend with us. She ingrained in me and my brother that education was important and encouraged us to do better.”

As an undergraduate nursing student, she received help from the Bring Diversity to Nursing program, an initiative that provides scholarships, technology, tutoring, mentoring and leadership opportunities. The program supports student success, helping them to graduate and work as nurses in local communities.

“I could have never gotten as far as I did without the constant support and encouragement I received from the BDN staff,” she said. “I will always consider them like a second family.”

Jimenez’s hard work paid off when she passed the national nursing licensure exam on her first try.

“UMass Lowell did a very good job preparing me to pass my boards and work in a variety of areas in nursing,” she said. “Although it was hard, earning my nursing degree was worth all the struggles to be able to sign my name Isaura Jimenez, RN.”