She has ‘the heart of a nurse,’ but can she overcome obstacles to her degree?

NEW YORK — As she struggled through yet another difficult class last year, Marleny Hernandez

NEW YORK — As she struggled through yet another difficult class last year, Marleny Hernandez felt her dream of becoming a nurse slipping away — again.

She was halfway through a two-year associate degree program at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Hernandez, a 33-year-old mother of four and high school dropout, had already overcome an array of obstacles on her nearly five-year journey.

“No matter how much I studied, I was failing,” Hernandez said, recalling the pediatric and medical-surgical care course that almost felled her. “I was just so frustrated.”

Hernandez had persevered through a difficult pregnancy, the demands of children, a job as a home health care aide and her other tough courses. But now the professional degree that could propel her entire family toward the economic stability they had never known was vanishing from sight.

“I was crying so much I didn’t know I was able to create any more tears,” said Hernandez, a petite woman with a mass of curly brown hair who lives in a two-bedroom public housing apartment in East Harlem with her husband and four children.