Back to Student Stories

Continuing to Serve: A Marine Veteran Prepares for Nursing School

Image of student Kathy Nunez smiling with a black background

Transferring from the Military to the University of Arizona
Kathy Nunez, a veteran and first-generation American, draws on the skills she acquired in the service to succeed in the classroom.


About Kathy Nunez

Double Major: Pre-Nursing and Spanish
Graduating in: 2023
From: Arlington, Virginia

Taking part in the Warrior-Scholar Project, a two-week academic boot camp hosted at the University of Arizona's Tucson campus, eventually led to Kathy Nunez enrolling as a Pre-Nursing student. The major is a prerequisite for acceptance into the rigorous Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program – and, for Kathy, it was another step in her transition from military to civilian life.


Building On a Strong Foundation

What does your going to college mean to your family?
I am actually a first-generation American, born and raised in Virginia. My folks emigrated here during the civil war in El Salvador. Both of them got through maybe middle school, and that is about it. They supported me through my military career and are very excited that I am currently in school to pursue a different career.

How did being in the military help prepare you for your next career?
I think the military definitely helped. Because not only do they expect you to be a rifleman, but they also expect you to take in new people, guide them, be a mentor, and be a leader. It's not just about proficiency; it's being a well-rounded, good person in general. And I think that's very important in any career. 

Were you able to transfer credits from the military to Arizona?
We were told, every year, we'd get XYZ money to be able to go to school, even if it's a class or two a semester. I didn't know what I wanted to go for, so it was a general studies degree. When I transferred to the University of Arizona, I was able to provide them with a transcript that helped chip away an entire semester or two off my plan.


The Right Place, the Right Program

Why did you choose Arizona? 
I primarily made my decisions for school based on location. I just didn't want to be on the east coast anymore. I had come here before for the Warrior-Scholar Project, and I really liked the campus and the city. I loved the desert. There's just something about it that was so magical to me. 

What drew you to our nursing program?
I had an inkling of wanting to get into the medical field, and nursing was probably the go-to because I always felt they were a little more hands-on than the doctors, and I'm a people person. Once I decided on the location, I started looking into the program itself. The nursing program is very competitive; they accept 52 students out of 200–250 a semester. So, I feel like they hold us to a higher standard. I can look to my left and right and know that these people care as much as I do.


Finding Community and Support

Do you belong to any clubs?
PAIN or Professional Achievements In Nursing club has been really neat. Every week, they have a guest speaker, whether a nurse from the school or a nurse they have contacted, to talk to us about the different specialties. Every week it's a very solid reminder like, “okay, this is why I am doing this.”

Do you use the VETS Centers on campus?
Oh, I love the VETS Center. So that's another big piece of my choice in school. The center is a nice little bit of everything; It's a social space, a study space, and a place where you can go just sit down and rest your feet for 10 minutes. I'm really excited that I have the opportunity not only to go in and use the VETS Centers as a resource, but I'm also working there, and I think it's been great. 



Arizona has again named a Best for Vets College by Military Times – ranked #1 in the state. That means military-connected Wildcats are finding the resources and support they need to succeed in and beyond the classroom. Ready to own your journey? Become a Wildcat.

Apply Today »

Learn about Veterans Educational & Transition Services »

Learn about the College of Nursing  »


Explore more student stories by topic.