Graduate Adrianna Camacho: President’s Prize winner found passion in cardiac intensive care

Adrianna Camacho

By Heidi TothAdrianna Camacho
NAU Communications

Meet Adrianna Camacho.

Undergraduate program: Nursing

Campus: NAU-Yuma

Adrianna Camacho has always wanted to go into medicine.

Not until she was in high school, however, did she find her passion. When she was a sophomore in high school Camacho, a senior nursing student at NAU-Yuma, was diagnosed with Long QT Valve Syndrome 13, a life-threatening genetic heart condition for which there is no cure. It typically presents as sudden cardiac arrest. After a number of unexplained fainting spells when she was a young teenager, Camacho spent a year undergoing tests and hospitalizations before she was diagnosed.

“It wasn’t until my own experience as a patient that I realized the passion and interest I had in cardiology,” Camacho said. “I decided after being diagnosed that I wanted to enter the cardiac field and be able to treat other patients like myself so I could relate to my patients in a way most other physicians and medical providers couldn’t.”

A first-generation college student, Camacho spent her senior year of high school applying for scholarships so she could afford to go to college. She enrolled at NAU, which enticed her with the access to outdoor recreation, small class sizes and professors who took an interest in her education. She was part of the Olson Scholars Program for first-generation students, which provided support and allowed her to live around other first-generation students.

Then her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Camacho found herself back in hospital rooms talking with health care providers.

“I saw how the nurses not only cared for her but for our whole family,” she said. “They treated my mom as a whole person and not just a medical diagnosis, and I changed my major to nursing. I strive to be able to provide the well-rounded care around the clock that the nurses offered to my mom and our family during our challenging times.”

She was not accepted into the Flagstaff nursing program her junior year, so instead of waiting another semester Camacho went to NAU-Yuma for nursing school. That necessitated leaving behind friends, the wilderness and the NAU Archery Club, at which she’d excelled, competing throughout the country and finishing in third place in the Women Bowhunter’s Division in 2014 and 2015. The move was worth it, though.

“Adrianna possesses tremendous resilience, which helped assure her success in Yuma,” said Jason Bradley, director of the NAU-Yuma nursing program. “She is an excellent self-advocate, has a phenomenal work ethic, holds herself to remarkably high standards and embodies effective communication and relationship building skills that will continue to serve her well.”

After graduation Camacho will take her state nursing board exams and then hopes to work at the Mayo Clinic’s Progressive Cardiac Care Unit or the Cardiovascular Critical Care Unit at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

NAU Communications