Tenezaca is a full-time mother and a full-time student. Photo: Silvia Tenezaca.
Tenezaca is a full-time mother and a full-time student. Photo: Silvia Tenezaca.

The story of Silvia Tenezaca: From Ecuador to critical care technician at Cooper University Hospital

Silvia Tenezaca’s story is one of extreme perseverance with more than light at the end of the tunnel.


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As the government in Ecuador erupted in uncertainty and poverty skyrocketed among the population, Silvia Tenezaca knew she needed to uproot and make a new life elsewhere.

Amid the packing, planning, and worrying, Tenezaca also made the decision to leave her son in the care of her mother as she settled in the United States.

And so, at age 21, Tenezaca left Ecuador and settled in Brooklyn, New York, where many of her family members already lived.

She found work at a dry cleaning business but always knew that getting an education would be in the near future.

The first goal was to learn a new language.

“My desire to attend college was stronger than any language barriers,” Tenezaca said.

She began learning English by watching television and speaking to friendly customers at her job.

As Tenezaca started feeling confident with her English, and the countless hours working began to pay off, she got devastating news. 

She had to move back to Ecuador immediately.

A catastrophic bus crash left Tenezaca’s mother, sister, brother-in-law, and 38 others dead. The tragedy would change her life forever. 

On top of losing her family members, she also had to care for her critically injured niece and sister, who were also injured in the 2011 bus crash.

While caring for her family members, Tenezaca enrolled in Nursing School while in Ecuador to continue holding onto her dream. 

It’s what she knew her family members would’ve wanted her to do.

Tenezaca returned to Sicklerville, New Jersey in 2012 with her oldest son, who was 13 at the time.

While maintaining a household in Sicklerville, New Jersey and tending to her three sons, Tenezaca got her G.E.D, and eventually graduated Camden County College.

As part of a study abroad program, Tenezeca also traveled to Cuba.

The journey was especially difficult because it meant that she would have to leave her three children in New Jersey.

It almost made her forget aspirations of being a nurse, but the thought of her family back in New Jersey gave her the power to push through her doubts.

Now, Tenezaca is attending Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden, and has since been a beacon of hope and encouragement for her family and others who believed in her.

She did not know this at the time, but she would also be one of the first of students to complete Rutgers–Camden’s community interpreter course to provide Spanish-language translation services to South Jersey residents who need such services to fill out medical forms, translate doctor’s instructions, and read medicine labels.

“I love helping the patients,” says Tenezaca. “I identify with them. I know how hard it is as an adult to learn a new language.”

Tenezaca is providing non-English speakers with the proper care by translating their needs to caregivers in English, while speaking to them in Spanish.

Despite the many bumps in the road and sudden losses, she still found a way to prosper even when she wanted to quit.

While working at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, she is still on a mission to specialize in pediatrics or as a labor delivery nurse in the near future.

Tenezaca will earn her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Rutgers‒Camden this Spring.

“I have compassion for people because of what I have experienced. I totally understand when people are going through an illness and dealing with the death of a family member,” said Tenezaca.


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