Warsaw-native Laysa Nocelotl is the first Grace College student to enroll in the new Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree offered in collaboration with John Patrick University (JPU) in South Bend, Ind. Laysa credits her family and a number of community resources for helping her realize her dream of attending college. Now Laysa aspires to use her degree to be a resource to Hispanic families like hers in the Warsaw community.
“Both of my parents came to Warsaw when they were teenagers,” said Laysa. “They began working right away and never had the chance to go to college, even though my mom wanted to. They’ve always wanted more for me,” she said.
Educational programs in Warsaw such as Cardinal Services’ “Head Start” and Grace College’s “College Mentors” at Jefferson Elementary were critical for Laysa. Her Grace College mentors helped her with homework, told her what college was like, and reaffirmed that college was an option for her. Little did she know at the time, she would become a health science major at Grace years later.
From a young age, Laysa had her sights set on a career in the medical field. “Many of my family members worked at factories and restaurants, so to have a healthcare professional in the family would be a big deal,” she explained.
After nearly two years on the track to become a physician’s assistant at Grace, Laysa came to the conclusion that chemistry classes weren’t her forte, but she didn’t want to abandon the medical field altogether.
Around that time, Laysa’s academic adviser, Dr. Rick Roberts, told her about a new MHA degree available online at Grace through JPU. This program would allow her to still make an impact in the medical field, without being a doctor. A few weeks later, Laysa was enrolled in the program and taking her first master’s course.
Since then, Laysa has discovered numerous opportunities in the field of healthcare administration which combine her knowledge of the Spanish language and her love for the Warsaw community. One is her current role as a translator for Language Matters where she is placed at Heartline Pregnancy Center providing translation services for mothers who speak Spanish.
“The doctor’s office can be one of the scariest places to go for someone who does not speak the language,” explained Laysa. “It is the best feeling to see someone who is struggling to understand English and to give them a huge sigh of relief by translating for them,” she said.
In Laysa’s short time at Heartline, she has worked with the staff to think of ways to better reach Spanish-speaking individuals in the community and to make their visit as comfortable as possible.
“After I graduate, I would love to work for a nonprofit in Warsaw and help encourage Hispanics to utilize resources like Heartline that are available to them through the many nonprofit organizations in our community,” said Laysa. “I want the generations that follow me to see someone that looks like them working in healthcare and be empowered.”
Laysa is on track to graduate in 2023, a total of four years, with a major, two minors and a master’s degree.
A version of this story originally appeared in a press release from Grace College.