I’m driven by what I felt I lacked growing up — that’s how I want to make a difference. And AHS has given me a great platform for that.

When I received my associate degree, I became the highest educated individual in my family. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of influences to guide me into higher education. But I did have one person I looked up to when I was in high school: Ms. Gower, a retired registered nurse. She gave me an image of fulfillment that I’d never seen. I gravitated toward that. That’s where nursing started for me.

I began my undergrad education at Diablo Valley Community College, then I transferred to Samuel Merritt University here in Oakland. I came to love the community of Oakland because it reminded me of the community that I came from — a lot of underserved immigrants, people that were afraid of medical institutions. But when I would do my community hours as a student, everybody would talk about Highland Hospital. That piqued my interest. And here I am, working in the ICU.

I love being here. It’s a great place to be mentored. In my unit, I’m encircled by a great group of senior and expert nurses who are always willing to guide me to the next level. If you show them that you want to learn they’ll teach you everything they know.

I always see myself as a student, eager to learn and push myself to the next level professionally and personally — like when I hiked up Mount Whitney, 14,000 feet in the air. I never thought I could do it. But I set the doubt aside and took one step at a time. Once you reach limits that you feel you never could before, it’s amazing how rewarding it is. So why don’t I go to the next mountain? Why not climb the next obstacle?

Ramon Lopez
Registered Nurse, ICU
Alameda Health System–Highland Hospital