TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - More than 1,000 people packed the Tucson Convention Center's ballroom today to celebrate the next wave of health care professionals.
A total of 64 Pima Community College nursing graduates were honored this afternoon with a candlelight and pinning ceremony.
Each one has his or own story, but one graduate had quite a journey to tell.
Thirty-six-year-old Marina Elena Daley has been juggling motherhood and school by taking one class a semester for nearly a decade.
Her decision to pursue a nursing career was personal.
Daley's father was burned severely in a house fire in 2005. She said he had third degree burns on more than 90 percent of his body and wasn't expected to live, but he did.
"They (the nurses) took care of the whole family and they created such a calmness and support and watching them care for him, a lightbulb went off in my head and said that's what I want to do when I grow up," she said. "My family was in absolute turmoil and the nurses provided an environment of healing and love and went that extra mile and that's what I saw and that's what I want."
Daley not only has three kids of her own, but recently adopted her sister's three kids when she passed away from cancer.
Daley has applied for a nursing job at a local hospital and is anxiously waiting to hear back.
The nursing profession is expected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is faster than the average for all occupations.