Like many Vancouver students, Francisco Gaspar took some time to travel after high school. After visiting New Zealand and Australia, he accepted a position to work in a Bolivian orphanage where he spent 18 months taking care of abandoned babies, as well as children of all ages. At first he struggled, confronted with the harsh realities those young children faced. During this time, Gaspar also experienced his own health struggles, which led him to be hospitalized for a short time while in Bolivia.
Following his recovery, he returned to the orphanage to find all the children lined up against the fence. He assumed they were going on an outing, but as he got closer, they started cheering with excitement. With surprise and delight, he realized they had been waiting patiently all day by that fence just for him. They had made him get well cards and drew him pictures and made little mementos, which even today he looks at whenever he needs encouragement.
"Volunteering and seeing the world opened my eyes and made me realize I really want to help people," Gaspar said.
While in Bolivia, he was told several times that he would make an excellent nurse. This was a career path he had never considered before. Gaspar is the ninth of 10 children born to Mexican/Guatemalan/Canadian parents who have always supported his dreams and taught him that anything is possible. He just needed to figure out what his next steps were to become a nurse.
After a quick Internet search he found the South Hill Adult Education Centre and met with an academic advisor. Together they made an education plan, which consisted of upgrading his English, Math, and Biology so he could meet the necessary pre-requisites for Vancouver Community College's two-year Practical Nursing Program.
In eight months, Gaspar will complete his course upgrades and he feels grateful to be in an environment where the students and teachers are so encouraging.
"So, my journey to become a nurse has begun. Never give up on your dreams. It sounds clich�, but it is true. You may think you are too old or convince yourself that you are unable to pursue a dream you have," he says. "Whether it is to be an artist or doctor, you can be who you want to be as a person in this life. Pursue it, and challenge yourself. We are privileged to be in a country where we can be who we want to be."