Nursing Rounds Parler: Table Topics

Breaking Barriers: This Nursing Student Is Making History in Minnesota

Find out how Melinda Lopez graduated nursing school at the age of 18

Melinda Lopez, RN

Making History: Her Story

Certified Nursing Assistant at 15. Licensed Practical Nurse at 17. Registered Nurse at 18.   Melinda Lopez made history this past year. Becoming the first high school student in the state of Minnesota to graduate from a nursing program. But scenarios like this do not occur by happenstance. Her story is laced with the overarching theme of resilience, grit, and determination.

It always seems impossible until it’s done. And then at that point, you have no choice but to believe that you possess the tools to achieve the unimaginable.

In the beginning

Melinda made a decision early on to pursue a path to become a doctor at the age of 4 years old. Interestingly enough, she decided that she would first move forward with nursing. With the desire to be the best possible provider to her patients- what better way than to serve as a nurse. Doing this would only allow her to gain a different perspective as a provider. Full immersion into medicine would equip her for the calling that she feels that she carries within healthcare.

Her path? Unorthodox. She gained the full support of both her family and her advisers. With the reassurance that they would guide her through this process- however, they had not yet had a student complete both high school and the nursing program simultaneously. Becoming the first to do it did not intimidate her from what she decided would be the best-case scenario for her. She pressed on, jumping into the unknown. Not knowing what the complete process would look like but understood what the result would be.

Melinda’s story has been shared on multiple media outlets

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

No student loans

$1.5 trillion. As of 2019, we have surpassed the trillion dollar mark for student loan debt. So is it worth it to go to college? Is the ROI- return on investment- of a college degree worth it in 2019? It depends. College is a business decision. Once you invest into your collegiate studies, will that degree afford you with more opportunities once you graduate? If the answer is yes, than it is absolutely worth it. Nursing is a bit more straight forward as one can not sit for the NCLEX- the national exam required to obtain licensure as a registered nurse without completing a nursing program. However, alternate routes such as a dual-enrollment program enables students to take college courses while in high school without the financial responsibility.

Begin with the end in mind.


Having that clarity of wanting to help people via the medical field from the beginning helped. By her sophomore year, she completed the requirements to become a CNA. This allowed her to have clinical experience which is extremely valuable to have as a nurse. Nursing is very much hands-on. The more experience you have the better.


Melinda Lopez is on a journey and she is inspiring others while she's doing it.  She made history this year by becoming the first high school student to graduate with a nursing degree in the state of Minnesota.
Melinda’s laser-focus from the beginning of her journey allowed her to have much success

No short cuts. Just pure hard work. As a granddaughter of Mexican grandparents, she’s motivated. She’s a source of inspiration to her peers. To her family as she has siblings with goals that are just as impressive. To her community and to many others alike as others are becoming aware of her unique story.

Melinda continues to be an inspiration within her community

Suggested Reading:

The Soul of America: John Meachem

Prefer audio books like I do? Click here

This segment of Parler: Table Topics was brought to you by contributions from Melinda Lopez. You can contact her through the following platform:

IG: @nurse_kasi

Disclaimer: Vintage Traveling Nurse is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. It is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its partners. All recommendations of products and services listed in each blog post are my own.

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