CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 11

11

Out of Africa
By Dana Brandorff

S

eventeen years ago, Eaba Dechasa
arrived in America from Ethiopia with
his family. His father was a geologist.
His mother a teacher. The Dechasas
came to America through the Diversity
Immigrant Visa program (also known as the
visa lottery), which provides up to 50,000
immigrant visas each year. Drawn from
random selection among all entries, the
visas are awarded to individuals who are
from countries with low rates of immigration
to the United States. Distributed among six
geographic regions, no single country can
receive more than 7% of the available DVs
in any one year.
Despite losing their prestigious jobs in
Ethiopia, the Dechasas knew this was an
opportunity and grabbed it with both fists.
With ethnic war raging in their country,
their future looked bleak. "My parents were
dedicated to giving us an opportunity,"
said Dechasa. So the family came to
America - specifically Colorado - where
approximately 30,000 Ethiopians live.
While in high school, Eaba enrolled in
the International Baccalaureate program.
"It was very competitive. The expectation
was that you'd attend an Ivy League
school, but I knew that was not likely in my
future." Disappointed, Dechasa "needed to

mature enough to realize that there are other
programs that can be just as great."
One day, he received a brochure from
the Community College of Aurora, where
his parents earned their License Practical
Nurse (LPN) degrees. The slogan "potential
realized" caught his eye and resonated. "CCA
was a fantastic starting point and I would
recommend it to anyone," said Dechasa.
His older sister, Bemnet, played a major
role in his decision to pursue nursing through
the Integrated Nursing Pathway (INP) program
at CCA. Currently in medical school in
Chicago, Bemnet received an undergraduate
degree in anthropology/human biology from
Emory University. Post bachelor's, she and
Eaba had many conversations about "how
to make enough of an impact." She felt
she was not and realized that many of her
friends who pursued nursing were. "I knew
I wanted to do something big and nursing
just seemed right."
By partnering with local community
colleges, the INP program facilitates a unique
pathway for students to earn a Bachelor of
Science degree in nursing. Offered only
through the Community College of Aurora,
the Community College of Denver and Red
Rocks Community College Arvada, the
program includes simultaneous application
and admission to both the community college
and CU College of Nursing. According to
Dechasa, "The INP program was fantastic.
If you don't have resources or know how to
navigate college it makes it manageable."
Inspired to be a nurse and leader,
Dechasa believes CU's program is a
gateway to that. "The College without me
would be the same. But me without the
College, I'd be nothing. It changed me in
many ways. Once I got into the program I
knew I was capable of doing anything."

Eaba Dechasa
and family.

11

A LEGACY OF CARING
By Dana Brandorff

B

orn into a service-oriented family with
strong roots in pediatric cardiology,
China Opland knew from a young age
that her path would focus on giving. Her
maternal grandmother Francine Leca, the first
female cardiac surgeon in France, founded
Mécénat Chirurgerie Cardiaque in 1996 - an
organization well known throughout the world
for providing free heart surgery to children
in need.
At the age of 12, Opland suffered a
loss that would inspire and motivate her.
Confronted by the death of a close family
friend whom she considered a brother, "I
did some soul searching," said Opland. The
experience opened her up to understanding
what life is about and the pursuit of spirituality.
As an adult, Opland traveled the world
- devoting herself to studying yoga in
India, sound healing in Bali, and obtained
a degree in religious studies. "Spirituality
touches your soul," said Opland. She also
spent time teaching English to children and
then decided to return to the U.S. to pursue
a nursing degree.
After researching programs, she
chose CU because of its affiliation
with Children's Hospital and its strong
research background. "I applied to CU
and was notified that I was accepted on
the anniversary of my brother's death. It
seemed meant to be." Moving from her
home in Miami to Colorado, she and her
boyfriend love it here and are here to stay.



CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020

CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - Cover1
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 2
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 3
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 4
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 5
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CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 7
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 8
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 9
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 10
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 11
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 12
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 13
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 14
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 15
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 16
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CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 18
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 19
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - Cover4
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