Traveling from China to the U.S. for college, Chang Wang, of Katy, remembers her first day in nursing class.

“In lectures I could understand 30 to 40 percent. My English is not so good especially in class,” said Wang.  “But I was really excited. I thought ‘I can make it,’ because I really want to be a nurse.”

Coming to Texas from a town near Wuhan, China, home to 80,000, Chang determined to learn English and nursing.

“I don’t speak English when I move here. I didn’t know Texas was so big, and I needed to drive,” said Chang. “I searched online and found this school and all the people said good things about it. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t try.”

First she began taking nursing prerequisites, a challenge for her English skills.

 “The class was biology, and I needed to check the words one by one on the computer (dictionary),” remembered Chang. “Finally I got a B.”

 Then she set about applying to nursing school.

 “Very luckily, I got in,” said Wang. “In class they teach me not only medical things but how to communicate. In pharmacology, (instructor) Misty Jones can make it like a story. Drug names are really boring. After I take her class, everything is so simple.”

 Supported by staff and faculty, she has persisted through setbacks, including the death of her father this summer.

 “Ms. Hall is so wonderful; she’s so caring. She’s the nurse I want to be in the future,” said Wang.

COM definitely changed my life. Two years ago, I didn’t want to talk. Every time (professors) encouraged me to talk, they gave me confidence. Gradually, I want to talk.”

She also bonded with others in her intense classes.

“I have a friend invite me to Thanksgiving day. In two years the people in our class are like family.”

 Now in her final year, she has conducted clinicals in day cares and hospitals, including a infant intensive care unit (NICU).

 “When you see (premature babies), that is amazing. I had a baby only one pound,” said Wang. “They are strong and struggle for life.”

 Her passion, she discovered is working with children.

"When I got here, I didn’t like kids. My instructor Molly Gundermann was amazing. She was NICU nurse for years. After that I feel like I love kids. I want to work in NICU,” said Wang.

Applying to UTMB, Chang has a goal of earning a bachelor’s degree and eventually becoming a physician assistant and perhaps working at a clinic for those economically disadvantaged.

“I come here with nothing. … I want to help students like me. I know how hard it is,” said Wang. 

“A patient’s life is in your hands. When I’m in the hospital and I see patients get better, it’s a really rewarding job. If you really want to do it, you can do it.”