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Humans of the U: Vanessa Lucio

“I’ve been a certified nursing assistant for about a year. I work at the University of Utah hospital now, which is a level-one trauma center. We get a lot of people from surrounding states and I always think it’s really cool to meet new people from different backgrounds.

My grandma, my mom and my older sister were all CNAs too. In my senior year of high school, I got my pharmacy technician license too, but I don’t like that as much. It’s not as personal. That’s why I like being a CNA better, because you actually get a relationship with your patients.

When I was a freshman in high school my lung collapsed twice. I have a condition called lung blebs, which is a small collection of air between the lung and the outer surface of the lung, so I had to go to Primary Children’s Hospital and get lung surgery. I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field because my family always was. But then when this happened to me while I was in high school and I was in the hospital a lot, I wanted to learn a lot more about the condition that I have. That’s why I chose pulmonology. Additionally, my mom and my grandpa were both smokers. Right now, they are having a lot of lung problems and I just want to get to the bottom of it.

Vanessa Lucio when she found out she was accepted to the University of Utah.

I was really happy when I was accepted to the U. I actually have a picture of the moment I found out and I’m just so happy. I love looking back at that picture. Every time I get discouraged or anything, I look back at that picture and I’m like, ‘I wanted to be here.’ Every time I’m having a hard time, I remind myself, ‘You used to be in seventh-grade dreaming of being where you are right now.’

I wasn’t sure I was going to come here because it’s more expensive than other schools in Utah. I was just going to go to the place that gave me the best scholarship because I didn’t have a lot saved for college. So getting the For Utah scholarship really helped me.

Coming to the U has been a change and a big culture shock. I’m from such a small town, Roosevelt, and I moved here and I don’t know anybody here at all. So it was scary to start out meeting new people and finding your cliques. But with my job and everything, I’ve met some really good people and made some really good friends. And a lot of the people I work with also go to the University of Utah.

The one thing I am looking forward to the most in college is meeting people. Everyone always talks about how they met lifelong friends in college and that is what I look forward to. Going through something as hard as college with people that are a good support system that you love and cherish—I think that will make it a lot easier.”

—Vanessa Lucio, 2022-23 recipient of the For Utah Scholarship