Miguel Contreras, a 22-year old student majoring in nursing at College of the Sequoias (COS), was featured in a special year-long project by photojournalist Rachel Bujalski for The Lumina Foundation (Lumina), a partner of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium.
For the past year, Bujalski has followed and documented the lives of a handful of California students whose lives reflect that of many of today’s students. Her work, including compelling photos and narrative that depict a candid, close up look at the lives of five low-income students and the immense college challenge they face during the COVID-19 pandemic, was recently published on Lumina’s website.
“Rachel is an accomplished photojournalist that has worked with Time, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Geographic and more,” said Dakota Pawlicki, Lumina’s strategy officer for Community College and Workforce Education. “She recently was part of a team that earned an Emmy for their undercover reporting.”
CVHEC, a Lumina-designated Talent Hub, and other California Talent Hubs hosted Bujalski and connected her to the students she featured including Miguel, a cancer survivor and an amputee who grew up in foster care.
He works full time as a hospital aide at Kaweah Delta Medical Center while attending CVHEC-member institution COS in Visalia full-time in search of a nursing career — all while preparing for fatherhood.
Miguel’s right leg was amputated below the knee after a cancer diagnosis at age 18 and the care he received from his nurses inspired him to become a nurse himself. But his classes have moved online because of COVID-19 and he says the work has become much harder without in-person help.
View his and the other photo stories here: https://www.luminafoundation.org/news-and-views/photo-essay-the-college-climb-steepens/ )
See Guardian.com story: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/07/college-students-coronavirus-pandemic-california