Cynthia Lee

Tucson, AZ – Cynthia Lee is a registered nurse in Tucson working toward her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, and she has the long-term career goal of providing mental health care in rural Arizona.

Cynthia explains:

“I know that psychiatric nursing has been brought more into the light over the past few years, and I feel that I want to be on the front lines of making a difference in that field, because it is very new as far being able to diagnose. It’s kind of a fuzzy line, because you are basically diagnosing people on symptoms that can overlap each other. Right now, I’m in a (U of A) program centered on providing psychiatric nursing care in rural areas, which will allow me to take courses and have clinicals in rural areas, so that I can help bring access of services to those areas.”

Cynthia, age 28, was born and raised in Tucson and graduated from Desert View High School in 2008. She earned a Bachelor Degrees in Public Health and Business Economics at the University of Arizona and also earned a Master’s Degree in Science at the U of A. In addition to pursuing her DNP, Cynthia works as an RN at Banner Health in Tucson and at Tucson Medical Center (TMC).

Cynthia says her passion for nursing evolved over time, “I juggled with a lot of thoughts in middle school. I play piano and one of my aspirations was to go to Yale and play in Carnegie Hall, and I competed in piano competitions throughout high school. I also dabbled with the idea of doing pharmacy, but after I took a few Chemistry classes I realized that I’m more of a people person. It was a College Success Arizona adviser who suggested that I try public health, which I did, and which led to nursing. Public health laid out a good foundation for me of knowing that there are underserved populations, and how to run a community assessment of health needs, and how the US as compared to other developed countries is lower ranking in its health system. So, having the public health background opened my eyes to all of the disparities there are, and the social determinants that affect these individuals.”

Cynthia adds that working as a nurse for a few years has fueled her passion for the profession, “I really like my field and I really like being in the healthcare role, and I’m a really big people person and I really enjoy working as a team with doctors, pharmacists, techs, and the whole team combining all of our skills to help a patient’s health – and the patient is obviously a part of the team as well. It’s great working with a big group of people for the greater good.”

Cynthia is among the hundreds of high potential students from low income circumstances who have earned scholarships from College Success Arizona. The students receive up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses and specialized mentoring services provided by CSA’s team of Success Advisers. Cynthia says, “It was definitely very helpful in earning my undergraduate degrees, and I wouldn’t have been able to attend a college like the University of Arizona without having such a scholarship, because my parents basically told me that they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for my college unless I went to school on a scholarship. And the advisers with College Success Arizona were also very helpful.”

Meanwhile, Cynthia has some words of wisdom for young people considering college, “Find something that you’re passionate about and pursue that. I know that in the United States money is a big factor and a lot of people work in their professions for the money, but if you do something that you actually enjoy and actually care about, you’re going to get so much more than just a big paycheck. I believe that it’s good for your own personal mental health to be able to do something that you’re truly passionate about. Even if you don’t know what you want to do at the beginning of college, you’ll figure it out – especially if you have an adviser who can help you understand what may be the best course for your interests and passions.”

Cynthia also encourages others to pursue many opportunities and experiences. She says a college internship in Africa put her on the path to psychiatric nursing, “I went to Tanzania for an internship which was required as part of my public health degree. I stayed in a village for two months with the organization ‘Support for International Change.’ Our mission was to teach the villagers about HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. From that experience I knew that I want to work in community health with underserved populations. Initially, I was thinking about getting a family practice degree and going into community health that way, but then I noticed that there is not enough psychiatric nursing care in rural areas.”

Since 2005, College Success Arizona has worked with nearly 1,300 students, and provided more than 16 million dollars in scholarships and success services to help increase the college attainment rate in Arizona. If you would like to be part of the mission of providing educational opportunity to high potential students from low income circumstances, your tax-deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.

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