CVHS alumnae C/O ’07 Kara Nguyen returns- this time- as the school’s nurse

Kara+Nguyen%2C+alumnae+of+CVHS%2C+now+serves+the+campus+community+as+the+school+nurse.+

Photo courtesy of Kara Nguyen

Kara Nguyen, alumnae of CVHS, now serves the campus community as the school nurse.

Fourteen years ago, CVHS Nurse Kara Nguyen navigated her way through the halls of CVHS. As she turned the corner, her eyes met the ones of Miguel Incháurregui, her fellow classmate and peer. Washed over in deja vu, she now nods at Algebra II and Spanish III teacher Miguel Incháurregui who smiles at her to ease her nervousness and congratulates her on her new position as the nurse of CVHS. 

“It’s cool having him here, too. Makes me feel like I’m almost back in high school, but not really,” says Nguyen. 

Nguyen recalls times she spent as a student hanging out with the nurse in the clinic. 

“My school nurse, her name was Nurse Locket. And she, she was always so kind to me, and she would talk about her nursing career. And I always thought, ‘Man, I’d be cool if I can do that’. So I kind of had it in my mind in high school that I wanted to be a nurse. So that’s what I did.”

Before coming to CVHS, Nguyen had worked her first year as a nurse at a small community hospital in East Houston, and thereafter in the medical center for six years.

“I worked in what’s called a cardiac catheterization lab where we put in pacemakers, and people come when they’re having heart attacks. So it’s a very stressful adrenaline rush [situation] in CPR, cold blue type thing that you see on Grey’s Anatomy.” 

Compared to working as a nurse in CVHS where Nguyen is building relationships with students, she describes how she had to distance herself emotionally from her patients in the hospital.

My scariest moment would be whenever my first patient died. That was I wouldn’t call it scary, but it was just hard. As a nurse you have to kind of separate yourself from your emotions there otherwise you’ll just cry the whole time. So learning the first patient that died, I didn’t know how to separate it. So I was just crying and everyone was like, ‘Oh, is this your first patient that’s passed?’ And I’m ‘yes’ like that’s never been easy for me,” says Nguyen. 

The phone call Nguyen received from CVHS was like a beacon calling her back home.

“I cried. I was really happy. I had been praying that if it was the right thing that you know, that I would be led there,” Nguyen says. “Just knowing some of the same people and I knew- it’s the most unique school in HISD. There’s not another school like this one. And so getting to be on staff here, as any position is just kind of special. Because I know, when I went to school here, even though it was in the other building, the staff was kind of like a family. And unique kids go here. So I wanted to be part of that again.”

The pitter-patter of shoes the concrete floor broke Nguyen’s reminiscing. A student by the name of Alex had scraped his elbow. Nguyen kept dressing Alex’s wound and sparked up some conversation to distract from the sting of the disinfectant. She asked Alex about his well-being, what game he was playing during lunch. As the minutes passed Alex’s barriers slowly faded and they soon fell into an easy conversational rhythm.

Having been bullied in school, Nguyen expressed that part of her job as a school nurse is to not only provide medical support, but emotional support as well, a drastic difference from what was expected from her as a nurse in the hospital. Instead of just a pack of ice, students sometimes just need a friendly face to see after a long day.

“I found is sometimes the kids who come in here, they just need someone to talk to you. And I like talking,” Nguyen says.  “I have some students with some health issues. But mental health is so important, especially at this school, it can feel overwhelming. I know AP classes are a lot. So trying to figure out for me being the nurse, how can I help students be a little less anxious, and just figuring out what they need from me, and what the other staff needs from me. I’m always open to suggestions of anything I can do to be better.

“My door will always be open,” says Nguyen.