Commencement Feature: A heart for healthcare | Celine Habimana

Celine Habimana

Nursing student Celine Habimana knew early on she wanted to join the medical field, and her friendly personality makes it clear she’ll excel at making her future patients feel at ease.

“I love being around people,” said Celine. “I’m an introvert sometimes, one of those people who needs to go home and recharge. But when I am around people, I’m like ‘let me hear your entire life story, and you tell me how you ended up here. How can I help you?'”

Celine’s love for medical television was another contributing factor to her degree choice.

“I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field,” said Celine. “My junior year of high school is when it was kind of solidified. I was heavy into medical shows, and they would touch a part of my heart every time, and the field and practices were so interesting to me because everybody has all these mechanisms going on inside of them that are duplicated in billions of people. I knew I had to be in this field.”

From there, Celine started looking into her university options. She was accepted to and considered several schools, but her trip to UCCS and its proximity to her family helped her decide.

“I think the first village I saw was Alpine, and I knew I had to end up here because it was so beautiful,” she recalled. “Scholarships and involvement on campus were another a huge factor in me deciding to come to UCCS. This was also the most modern-looking university out of all the ones we toured in Colorado, and I thought ‘I have to go here.'”

Celine with her sister, Bella

“And, they gave me ice cream on the day that we toured at UCCS, so that really sealed the deal,” laughed Celine.

Though the healthcare field was a given for Celine, nursing was not definite in her original plan.

“Initially I wanted to be like a radiologist or general surgeon and was looking into the paths, but with the several years of school and then residency, and the debt, I felt I’d be unhappy,” she said. “I wanted something I could get into right after finishing college. That was another one of my driving forces for UCCS because of the nursing program that I saw here, and then I found out that with my previous high school credits, I could only do it in four years, and I went ‘heck yeah, why wouldn’t I want to do that?'”

Celine’s classes and clinicals helped her narrow down her career goals even further, with sights set on nursing within the emergency department.

“One of the things I love about UCCS and the nursing program here is the variety you get in training,” said Celine. “They’ll have you in the emergency department, in the ICU, in the obstetrics world, so you’re exposed to all of them and get time in every hospital setting. I plan to go into the emergency department, because the days that I had in that setting were amazing. You see so many different cases and never know what’s going to walk through the door.”

Celine’s coursework took up a significant amount of her time, but that didn’t stop her from getting involved in other campus activities.

Celine in her graduation garb

“I’m in the Chancellor’s Leadership Class (CLC), African Student Association (ASA) and Black Student Union (BSU),” she said. “I also did a lot of volunteering through CLC – Care and Share, Labor Day Lift Off, the Cool Science festival they have here on campus, UCCSLead, several events like that.”

Along with those, Celine found additional support systems at school among her friends and professors.

“My professor, Susan Finke, has been amazing and very supportive,” Celine said. “She helped me a lot and if not for her, I don’t think I would have made it this far.”

“If there was a way I could give her a whole award, I would,” she laughed.

Despite Celine’s desire to pursue to shorter degree and enter her field sooner, she’s interested in furthering her education down the line.

“I want to work for a little bit, and then come back to UCCS for my master’s in nursing,” she said. “Maybe in two years or three years. I don’t know how long, but I will be back. For now, I’d love to work at UCHealth in CU Anschutz.”

A career in Denver would bring the benefit of allowing Celine to live near family again, whom she’s close with.

“My mom supported me so much through nursing school, and has supported my sister and me as a single parent,” said Celine. “She’s also a nurse, and works so hard and is so inspirational to me.”

Celine on campus

After Celine’s own hard work and efforts, she earned one of the 2024 Student Leadership Awards and is speaking at commencement in addition to walking across the stage as a graduate.

“I’m excited and I’m nervous at the same time,” she said. “I’ve spoken at other events, but this is commencement, and I don’t know if the bigger crowd makes it harder, or easier because I won’t know everyone. That kind of takes the pressure off a little bit, but again, it’s on a stage in front of a ton of people. It’s a lot of emotions, but I’m mostly excited.”

Celine shared her philosophy for approaching life and its challenges, emphasizing that it’s been part of what helped her achieve so much and reach this point.

“Tell yourself everything will work out,” she said. “If you feel and think that everything is going work out for you, it will. Eventually you start to believe it. That’s my grounding. When I was applying to CLC, I told myself, ‘I’m going to get it. Why wouldn’t I?’ You have to believe you will.”

About Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences

The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences has trained and educated the region’s health professionals and human performance professionals for over 120 years, and in 2022, celebrated 25 years with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). Students are trained to meet the needs of a rapidly changing health care landscape by providing transformative, high-quality, and compassionate care.