A journey to caregiving


By Eric Foster, Editor and Creative Specialist

Luz Guerrero Lorenzo, a senior nursing major at Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg, has always had “caregiver” as part of her identity.   

“I’ve always been a caregiver in every sense, not necessarily in a health promotion type of way, but I always look out for my family, was always worried,” says Guerrero Lorenzo. “Growing up, my mom had health issues that I didn't know how to help with. My mother has bad hypertension. I didn’t understand it, so I felt helpless. That’s why I chose to study nursing.”  

Her journey to a nursing degree this May was never an easy one.  

“My family is from the Dominican Republic. I immigrated here with my mom in 2011, and we joined my dad, who arrived in 2003,” says Guerrero Lorenzo, whose family settled in Hazleton. “It was a huge and very hard transition. Even the way that I learned the language. My brother took English classes in the Dominican Republic and knew a little. I would come home from school and ask for help. He would give me a Google translator. But I can thankfully say that by doing it myself, I learned the language so much faster. There were ESL classes to help students with the language transition. I was out of ESL by eighth grade. I pushed myself hard to learn the language.”  

Originally Luz was interested in designing clothes, but her eyes were opened to new possibilities through high school anatomy and physiology courses.   

“Nursing is such a big career field; you can take it in any direction. I wanted to help a population that I knew would be most vulnerable. I’ve always been interested in women’s health and obstetrics, and that’s what I’m going into.”  

An affordable cost and closeness to home led Guerrero Lorenzo to Bloomsburg, starting in the fall of 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. 
“Right after we were coming back for our spring break, COVID hit, so we were home online virtual” for two years. In the fall, I would come to campus only one day a week for my health assessment lab.”  

The curriculum was challenging. “It felt like every semester was the hardest thing I've ever done,” says Guerrero Lorenzo. In addition to her family, friends, and partner Rey, she found support in staff from Bloomsburg’s TRIO Support Services and in professors like Rebecca Toothaker in nursing and (now retired) Cynthia Surmacz in biology and allied health sciences.  

“In the spring semester of the following year, classes were online, but I went to clinical. We were with people in the hospital. We were never held back from having that clinical experience and patient interaction. What better way to really know nursing in its toughest moments than when there’s a pandemic.”  

While the demand for nurses is strong, a highlight of Guerrero Lorenzo’s experience is getting a job close to her home in the specialty she wanted. “After graduation, I will start a job at Geisinger Wyoming Valley in Wilkes-Barre as an obstetrics graduate nurse.”   

“What I learned about myself through these clinical experiences is that I am much stronger than I believe,” says Guerrero Lorenzo. “I have to be because there are people who are looking up to you.”