Advocate for Seniors, Role Model and Mentor for Nurses
By Ting Joven Giovanelli
Born and raised in the beautiful islands of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan, Carmen, the daughter of Pedro Perez (deceased) and Rita Ereso is truly deserving of the Gintong Pamana’s Tandang Sora Annual Award for Nursing. Sharing her personal objective in life, Carmen wrote: ” I see myself more involved in the nursing organization by role modeling and mentoring nurses for management and teaching roles.”
To her five siblings who are all college graduates and successful in their chosen careers – Carmen has, indeed, been a role model and mentor since they were young.
Although only the second of six children, Carmen took charge in sending her siblings to college. They all live in the Philippines and occasionally travel to the United States to visit her. Carmen was widowed at a young age but the tragedy didn’t discourage her from pursuing her goals and achieving more for her and the two young daughters her husband left behind. She lived by her philosophy and guiding principle of taking charge of her life. A strong believer in positive thinking, she was able to overcome the obstacles she encountered early in life – including the loss of her then 29 year old daughter, Jennifer in 2002. Her outlook in life changed after the loss of her daughter. It made her realize how important health is. Today, she speaks proudly of her other daughter, Laurice Rica, a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corp., who is based in Sebago, Maine.
Carmen’s determination to succeed in life was evident even as a young girl. She saw herself traveling overseas as a career woman, and graduating Valedictorian in high school only inspired and moved her with fierce determination toward that path. She enrolled in Nursing and graduated on the Dean’s List Diploma in Nursing at the University of the Philippines General Hospital School of Nursing in 1969 and became a Bronze Medalist in Clinical Proficiency. She pursued her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Philippine Women’s University and graduated in 1970.
Carmen started her journey to her destiny in 1971, when she first migrated to the United States and worked for two years at the Mercy Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She went back home to the Philippines to start a family. After her husband passed away in 1983, she decided it was time to come back to the United States and pick up where she left off. Driven by her desire to give the best for her children, she pursued and completed her Master of Science in Health Care Administration at the Central Michigan University in 1993. In 1997, she added another feather on her cap when she completed her Master of Science in Human Resource Management at the Central Michigan University.
Carmen held varied positions both in long term care and in acute care. She was a researcher with an OB GYN group for the use of Magnesium sulfate for pre term labor. Also, she had taught in Schools of Nursing both in the Philippines and in the United States. Currently, she is a Nurse Consultant/ Surveyor for Long Term Care Facilities for the Department of Community Health in the State of Michigan. She conducts nursing home surveys for Federal and State regulation Compliance. She advocates for quality of life and quality of care for residents in the Nursing Homes. She investigates allegations of abuse and neglect among residents in the long term care facilities.
Over the years, she continues to mentor nursing students in pursuit of their dreams by helping them in their studies without being compensated for her effort. She always tells them to aim high in every undertaking. In spite of the demands of her job, Carmen finds time to volunteer in several charitable organizations. She is an active volunteer at the Kiwanis of Cosmopolitan Detroit, The Filamcco, and the Pangasinan Club of Michigan. She has participated as a volunteer in several Medical Missions in different provinces of the Philippines. Carmen is the immediate Past President of the Philippine Nurses Association of Michigan, a Gerontology Fellow, Philippine Nurses Association of America Foundation and a Mentee at the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurses in 2008.
When asked about her plans for the future, she readily said, she wants to be more involved in mentoring nurses for management and teaching roles. She will continue to “take charge of her life.” She is also looking forward to joining the next Medical Mission in the Philippines. Meanwhile, she would like to travel more. Right now, she enjoys gardening, and taking trips to the casino gaming whenever she has the time. When asked if she has any plans of making a new commitment in a relationship, she said “if the right man comes along, why not.” Really, why not? This lady with a golden heart has not only accomplished so much in life but has also committed to sharing her gifts and blessings to others, especially those who need them. Someone so hardworking, smart, devoted to her profession, a go-getter, and a silent achiever certainly deserves nothing but the best, like the Tandang Sora Award for Nursing. Carmen says she lovingly dedicates this honor and recognition to her late father, Pedro Perez.