The skills Ivan Escobar learned at Malcolm X College as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and nursing student, then on the job in St. Anthony Hospital’s emergency room helped him jump into action, helping a gunshot victim on his way home from a family party. Ivan, who was driving with his son in his Humboldt Park neighborhood, heard gunshots, then calls for help. A driver had been shot in the head, and Ivan’s quick action helped the victim until other first responders could get there.

Ivan didn’t always want to be a nurse. In fact, he first started taking classes at Malcolm X College after ten years in the pest control business. His plan was to become a Chicago Police Officer, and earning an associate degree was a prerequisite to applying. While he completed his associate degree, he also earned his Emergency Medical Technician license – something he thought would give him an edge as a first responder. What he didn’t know was that he would find a passion in emergency medicine. After working for a year for an ambulance company, Ivan got a job at St. Anthony Hospital as an emergency room technician. Working hand-in-hand with nurses confirmed his decision to continue studying and become a nurse himself.

“Seeing what the nurses do every day – I knew that’s where I needed to be,” he explained.

Ivan earned his Associate in Arts in 2014 from Malcolm X College, and he had such a positive experience, he returned in 2016 to attend the nursing program. Ivan was part of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and even helped tutor others in math. He says his teachers were amazing – they not only inspired him in the classroom, but worked with students outside of class with personal issues or goal planning.

“I love Malcolm X College. You aren’t a number there – they are focused on you. I don’ think you get that in a big university,” Ivan said.

And while Ivan was the first in his family to go to college, his oldest son is already following in his footsteps. In fact, Ivan’s last semester at Malcolm X before he graduated in the spring of 2019 was his son’s first semester – sometimes they would even meet for lunch between classes. His son also wants to be a nurse, and his dad has already advised him to do the Emergency Medical Technician program first. Someday, they hope to be able to plan their lunch dates at work.

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