Alumni Spotlight: Jaime, MSN, “The future lies ahead, and it is promising.”

Jaime Caliston, MSN

Jaime Caliston started her nursing journey had her crossing oceans and persevering through hardship. The hard work was worth it, and Jaime earned her Master of Science in Nursing, specializing in Nursing Education, in August 2023. Today, Jaime shares her story of struggle and triumph.


The compelling chapters of my odyssey and putting God at the center of my life led me to where I am now. My educational journey started in the Philippines. I enrolled in BS in Physical Therapy because was the sought-after job in the US then. I lived in a boarding house in a room shared with five other students for four years. Candlelight and cups of noodles were our partners in helping us survive the challenges of studying away from home. Traveling on a high-speed catamaran at least every month to come home has risks, such as having an almost Titanic-like experience or going through a storm.

By my 5th year, I had to make a tough decision to switch to a different course due to the unpromising future employment outlook of physical therapists. I switched to a degree in BS in Psychology and completed the course in two years. At about the same time, my family migrated to the US. A year later, I joined my family in the US. It broke my heart to witness my mom and sister endure hardship as they thrived on starting a new life in the US. Seeking employment was backbreaking unless you worked in healthcare. The heartbreaking experience encouraged me to enroll in the BS in Nursing program in the Philippines. I was one semester away from graduating from the program when I found out I was pregnant. To complete my clinical rotation, I had to hide my baby bump behind my scrubs, have a circulating nurse partner who could slip hard candy in my mouth during surgery so I wouldn’t faint, and wear adult diapers to survive the long hours of surgery. I was in survival mode!

During the summer, I visited my sister in the US; she just got married. My baby bump became more prominent so I couldn’t return home, and the nursing school did not allow me to enroll for the semester either. I gave birth to my firstborn in October, and three months later, I traveled home with my 3-month-old son and immediately registered for the second semester. The schedule was hectic: mornings for lectures and clinicals on the night shift. I would come home between classes and clinics to see my baby and leave the house in tears. I completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2.5 years as a full-time mom and student. As soon as I passed the Nursing Board Exams and the International English Testing System (IELTS) exam in the Philippines, I joined my family in the US. I worked as a caregiver while studying for the NCLEX exam. As soon as I passed the exam, I worked at a Skilled Nursing Facility.

My first job as a Registered Nurse in the US was very challenging; from medical equipment to facility-specific nursing protocols, it made me want to give up. But as a single mom then, that was not an option. I worked graveyard shifts and took the bus home for an hour’s nap, and feeling recharged, I spent time with my son. On top of that, I picked up two other jobs, in Adult Day Health Care and Home Health visits. I got married in 2011 and welcomed our second-born son. My career path changed from being a full-time nurse supervisor in a Skilled Nursing Facility to becoming a School Nurse at the nation’s second-largest school district to balance work and family. I welcomed many opportunities as a School Nurse when I received my Public Health Nurse Certificate, my clear School Nurse Credential in 2 years, and my School Audiometrist Certificate. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the opportunity to lead a team of more than 400 employees doing contact tracing remotely, supporting the district’s students, employees, and the community. Being identified as one of the district’s critical and essential workers was an honor. The YWCA Greater Los Angeles invited me to attend the Phenomenal Woman Awards Celebration as a SHEro Honoree. I also received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition signed by the mayor of Los Angeles. Somehow, I earned a reputation as training cognoscenti from my good friend, who believed I was a versatile nurse and persuaded me to take the master’s degree at Aspen University. I initially hesitated because, at that time, I had longer work hours, and we had a busy house during the pandemic. Nevertheless, I took the chance and worked around the schedule, recording PowerPoint presentations in the bathroom at 1:00 a.m. while studying, working, and sleeping on the living room floor. The professors at Aspen University helped me achieve my academic goal by providing continuous support and scaffolding professional relationships that positively impacted my mental and emotional health. Aspen University paved the way for me to attain my professional goals. Holding a higher credential established my credibility, expanded my professional network, and advanced me to a higher position.

I pulled through the exciting academic venture while navigating unchartered waters as a full-time working mom of 3 wonderful boys. Our life is full of surprises that often throw curveballs that challenge us to make tough decisions. Our unique life experiences shape our decisions. The people who impacted our lives – our family, friends, boss, and children – were there for a reason. They kindled us to create a balance in our lives so we can flourish. They are an essential part of our story. My 18-year-old son’s inspiring words put me in an irenic state of mind, “God blessed me with a selfless mom! I make wise decisions and have accomplished many good things because of you.” I never expected that my nursing career, which started in the Philippines, would shower me with all these fantastic opportunities. In addition, my boss already recommended me to the School Administrative Services Credential Program. I do not see myself becoming an administrator, but she did. Let’s continue to inspire others and embrace a growth mindset to welcome opportunities. Let’s surround ourselves with people with a positive outlook on life and block any hindrances to achieving our personal and professional goals. Never stop learning, for life is our teacher and offers us the chance to learn new skills daily. It encourages us to study and overcome the difficulties we face. Our life is the best teacher we could receive. The future lies ahead, and it is promising.


Jaime’s story shows how much we can accomplish through perseverance. If you’re ready to start the next step in your nursing journey, check out Aspen’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences page.

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