Respiratory Care alum can breathe easier because of TSC

TSC Respiratory Care alum Stephany Serna.Texas Southmost College alumna Stephany Serna graduated in 2019 with an associate degree in respiratory care.

A few years after a shaky start at a university, Texas Southmost College Respiratory Care alumna Stephany Serna found her career at TSC.

In May 2019, the 28-year-old earned an associate degree in respiratory care from TSC. Since then, she has passed her two national board exams and is working as a respiratory care therapist at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi.

However, getting there was a challenge for the mother of three and first-generation college graduate.

“When I first ventured into college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. No clear path,” said the Brownsville native. “I decided to work instead, but later realized a call center was not a career. I wanted more.”

She reflected back to her high school years, and the interest she once had in pursuing a career in the medical field.

After much consideration, she realized her passion then, of respiratory care, was still her passion.

“I once had to shadow a respiratory therapist and it was all so new to me, but the rush I felt was memorable,” she said. “That’s when my interest was sparked, I just never pursued it. And now was my time.”

Although she said college was intimidating as an older student, mother and wife, she said TSC, her husband and family were her support through the entire journey.

“Instructors who are experienced and always present for their students, my husband who allowed me to follow my dreams, made this demanding program possible for me,” said Serna. “Even my fellow students played a huge role in my success. We were a team.”

Serna added that she was fortunate to have the help she did to focus solely on school and the hands-on training and clinical rotations the program offered its students.

“The program was straight forward, gave us the insight and experience we needed to be prepared for life after college,” she said. “There were no surprises.”

Serna said she was fully prepared to begin her career at CHRISTUS in Corpus Christi, where she works with pulmonary patients keeping airways open during cardiac arrests and performing and teaching breathing treatments.

Although she has not personally worked with COVID-19 patients, she said respiratory therapists are vital during this time since many patients end up on ventilators or for less severe patients, inhalers, to assist with breathing while fighting the virus.

“Because of TSC, I now have a career that I love,” said Serna, who continues to reside in Brownsville with her family. “Despite my two-hour drive, I look forward to going to work and being able to provide for my family.”

This isn’t a stopping point for Serna, who hopes to continue her education in the near future.

“This is my long-term career. I don’t plan on going anywhere,” she said. “I want to continue to learn and grow. A big thank you goes to TSC for changing my life. I’m in a better place now, my entire family is in a better place. I can breathe easier.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for respiratory therapists is projected to grow 21% by 2028 as the middle-aged and elderly populations grow. The median wage in 2019 was more than $61,000 a year.