Espinoza Earns Avalos Family Nursing Scholarship

 Dawnie Espinoza

By Laura Nelson

Thanks to the generosity of the Enrique Avalos family of Uvalde, another Sul Ross Rio Grande College student is closer to realizing a dream.

Dawnie Espinoza of Del Rio earned the Esmeralda Rosalia Avalos Nursing Scholarship, an award provided by the family of the late Esmeralda in her memory. Esmi led her life in service to others despite a chronic illness that left her unable to attain her dream of attending college and becoming a teacher. The Avalos family also raises money to fund a teacher education scholarship in her honor.

Mrs. Espinoza demonstrates the same desire to help others, and said she always knew she wanted to be a nurse. She completed the Health Occupations course of study at Del Rio High School and then enrolled at Angelo State Univ. to earn an associate’s degree that would lead to Registered Nursing licensure. Unable to finish due to changes in her life, she switched paths, first becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant and then a Medical Assistant. She was employed during this part of her education, but decided to quit working and become a full-time student in order to concentrate on the courses needed for Licensed Vocational Nurse certification. She completed that in one year and remained in school an additional year for the Registered Nurse requirements.

As an RN, she works 12-hour, overnight shifts in the Women’s Health Center at the Val Verde Regional Medical Center where she said she found her calling. Dawnie found she enjoys treating mothers and babies, and working there pushed her to complete RGC’s RN to BSN program. She wants to pursue her passion, neonatal care, and more education expands her knowledge base and broadens her horizons. The RN to BSN program is online which works well for the busy mother of four. She and husband Albert are raising four boys, 9-year-old Diego, Marcos, 8, Luis, 5, and Raul, 2, plus she squeezes out enough time to take nine hours of course work in the bachelor of science in nursing program.

“It's hard to pinpoint just one moment that made me fall in love with what I do. I guess it has just evolved sort of unexpectedly. I do know that getting to have a small role in the miracle of birth is an amazing feeling. And when things don't always go so smoothly, I know that I can help make a difference in someone's life, even if it's just a hand to hold,” Dawnie explained.

A native of Del Rio, Dawnie recognizes the need for highly trained medical personnel in rural areas, especially for labor and delivery. She hopes she can help fill that gap and is considering a master’s degree with a specialization in neonatal care.

She said, “I don’t qualify for financial aid since I make decent money, but I still have student loans from when I wasn’t working. The Avalos Family Scholarship has helped ease some of the financial burden.”

For information about this scholarship and others available for Rio Grande College students, visit and choose “RGC Financial Aid” or email