Nursing Student Aileen Montalva Says ‘Nothing Will Stop Me From Achieving My Dreams’


West Windsor, N.J. – Aileen Montalva is accomplishing her goals one step at a time at Mercer County Community College (MCCC). This past spring, she completed the college’s Medical Office Assistant program and this semester began the professional phase of the MCCC Nursing program, with plans to graduate in 2023. She works 30 hours a week in the healthcare field to cover her educational expenses.

And, she is making her family proud. A first-generation college student, Montalva says, “I am inspired by my father's ambition and my mother's dedication.”

Montalva has been interested in the medical field since she was a child. “I have grown up surrounded by love and compassion, which has made me want to help others,” she said. Before attending Mercer, she spent over 300 hours volunteering at the CentraState Healthcare System as a Health Science Academy student at Mercer County Technical Schools.

Montalva’s work ethic continues to fuel her achievement. Last year, she was named to the MCCC Dean’s List and participated in a work study program with NJVeg, a nonprofit group that advocates for healthier, plant-based diets.

Online learning during the pandemic posed its own set of challenges. “Initially it was difficult to transition to remote classes. It took more organization and effort to be successful in these classes,” Montalva said. She relished the opportunity to be on campus for biology labs with Professor Diane Hilker, one of the few courses that met in person during the shutdown. “She is very passionate about her work and her students. I’m glad I’ve gotten to meet professors who genuinely want their students to succeed.”

Montalva is the grateful recipient of MCCC’s Go4It Foundation scholarship. “The scholarship helped alleviate some of the financial pressure I had. It helped me focus more of my time on education. It put me one step closer to my dream of becoming a registered nurse,” she said.

Montalva maintains that nothing will stop her now. “I am ready to overcome all hurdles to become an R.N.,” she said, adding that her long-term goal is to transfer to a four-year university for her B.S.N.

Family continues to motivate and inspire Montalva. Her grandfather, who passed away last year, suffered from chronic health conditions. “I always strived to do anything I could to help him,” she said, noting that she would accompany him to his doctors' appointments to help with translation. “Although I will not be able to help my grandfather medically as a nurse, I know someday I’ll be able to help another little girl's grandfather.”

Montalva advises incoming students to make the most of the resources that Mercer has to offer, whether that’s the library, counseling services, advisors, office hours or professors. “Everyone is here to help,” she said.


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Aileen Montalva earned her certificate in Medical Office Assistant and is currently in the professional phase of the Nursing program.