Manuel Rivera never imagined himself becoming a health-care provider. He planned to go into the military after graduating from high school, but with his wife Kailey expecting their first child, he reconsidered.
Three months after their son Carson was born, tragedy struck. A babysitter left him unattended in a bathtub and Carson nearly drowned. At the hospital, he was given a 10 percent chance of survival and Manny and his family were told to say goodbye.
Manny credits his son’s survival, in part, to the care he received from the respiratory therapists who were at his side monitoring his tiny lungs and heart and helping them function properly again during the two weeks he was hospitalized. During that time, Manny interacted with the medical team and developed a fascination with respiratory therapy and the machines that were keeping his son alive.
“When they said he was going to make it and there was no brain damage, that is how I chose my profession. They were there for my son and I said that I want to do that for someone else’s kids,” he says.
A month later, Manny enrolled in Valencia’s Respiratory Care Associate in Science program and has thrived in the challenging program, in spite of the fact that he was told in high school that he wasn’t college material. In 2015, he was named a Siemens Technical Scholar, a national designation that recognizes exceptional scholars pursuing “middle-skill” STEM jobs. Now in his last semester, Manny wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Cardiopulmonary Sciences at Valencia and eventually become a physician assistant.
For more on Manny, click here.