Recent Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) graduate and Johnson Scholar Karla Cantero-Garcia believes she was made to serve others. After finishing high school and earning her associate’s degree through dual enrollment, she began attending PBA in 2020.
In addition to the nursing program, the Brooksville, Fla. native was drawn to PBA’s community. It was the only university that allowed her to pursue nursing while playing beach volleyball.
“Nursing is so important,” she reflected. “I think about the second commandment—to love others as you love yourself.”
But the decision to pursue a career in nursing came from hardship. In 2019, Cantero-Garcia’s sister lost her baby during labor.
“It was really hard to go through as a family,” she said. “I have never seen someone bounce back like my sister. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be an obstetrics nurse.”
Cantero-Garcia learned about the Johnson Scholarship last year while seeking financial aid.
“I asked for help, and it fell into my lap,” she said. “College is not cheap. You already have the stresses of nursing school, so to have the finances [taken care of] reminds me how faithful the Lord is. For JSF to do that financially—while I couldn’t do it on my own—means the world to me.”
Earlier this year, Cantero-Garcia received a phone call from one of her professors, who shared more good news.
“The phone call came at a perfect time,” she said. “I was going through the loss of my grandma. We’d always talked about my graduation. She was my number-one supporter.”
During the call, Cantero-Garcia learned that she’d been elected as the 2023 outstanding graduate in the School of Nursing.
“My heart was filled with joy—I couldn’t stop smiling,” she said. “When Dr. Jane Wilson said that the faculty [chose] me by name, it was great to know my hard work was paying off.”
Cantero-Garcia credits her faith and family for her success.
“My parents have always been proud of me,” she shared. “Coming from a Hispanic household, the drive was to always ‘do’. My mom would always say in Spanish, ‘Do everything as if it were for the glory of God.’ It was ingrained into my being.”
And ‘do’ she does. Cantero-Garcia has already started the master of science in nursing program at PBA. She said she’s looking forward to getting her foot in the door at a nearby hospital—or going back to school for her doctorate in nursing someday.
“Looking back, I didn’t feel as if those tears or headaches from staring at a computer screen for so long would amount to something—and it did.”