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Nursing Student Named BrightStar Midwest Caregiver of the Year

Elsa Salguero

By Brian Kleemann

College of DuPage Nursing student Elsa Salguero of Hanover Park has been named Midwest Region Caregiver of the Year by BrightStar Care.

Salguero, who completed the Basic Nursing Assistant training program and is currently pursuing her Associate Degree in Nursing at COD, was recognized by the national home health agency as one of only four regional recipients. 

Clients around the country submit thousands of nominations for the annual recognition. Salguero’s nomination came from a client’s wife, who described how Salguero cared for her husband after a severe stroke left him unable to speak, in addition to other challenges. The wife said her husband beamed when Salguero came by and that they “became fast friends and developed their own communication system.” After he passed, Salguero continued to support the wife. 

“I knew about the nomination but had no idea that she had written such an amazing letter,” Salguero said. “Then I received a call from BrightStar asking me to come in for an interview along with the client who nominated me. I said OK and didn’t think much of it. But then I opened the doors to the conference room and saw my parents, my brother and my grandmother, and I started crying. The owner of BrightStar in Wheaton came forward and told me I was the winner of the Midwest Region award. It meant so much to me.”

Click here to watch an ABC7 Chicago segment on the surprise announcement.

Salguero always wanted to pursue a health care career. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a surgeon and would watch the TV show “Trauma: Life in the ER” with her dad.

“When my brother was 8, he fell down the stairs. I was able to stop the bleeding because I always watched the show,” she said. “While we were with him in the ER, I was fascinated by the doctors and nurses.”

However, after finishing high school, she wasn’t able to afford medical school, so Salguero worked for several years and saved her money. During this time, she began thinking about a career and nursing and decided to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. She then found BrightStar through a woman from her church who worked there. After her initial interview, Salguero was hired right away.

“They are good at pairing caregivers with patients,” she said. “They make sure we are comfortable with each other.”

In receiving the award, Salguero and the other three regional recipients were eligible for a scholarship and being named national Caregiver of the Year. Although Salguero was not selected for this honor during a recent gala in Chicago, she said the regional award validates her career choice.

“I am my own biggest critic, and I know there’s always room for improvement, so there’s a part of me that thinks I didn’t deserve this because I know I can do better,” she said. “But I do know that I’m doing the job that I want to do. I give my patients the best care I can.”

While at BrightStar, Salguero continued her nursing education, becoming a BNA and now is pursuing her RN.

“I’ve always been grateful for every path that I’ve taken in life. I truly believe that College of DuPage was a path I needed to take,” she said. “In the CNA program, I had the best professor, Carol Trotter. She taught us to not only go by the book but to go above and beyond. Because of the way she taught us, I can provide the best quality care for my patients.”

Salguero initially thought about working in the ER and perhaps specializing in pediatrics. Because of BrightStar, she now wants to work in geriatrics. She credits College of DuPage for helping her reach the goals she began setting as a child.

“College of DuPage opened up doors for me to follow my dream,” she said.

For more information about the Nursing program, visit www.cod.edu/programs/nursing or call (630) 942-2259

College of DuPage is an accredited community college that serves more than 27,000 students each term. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, College of DuPage will host a series of on- and off-campus events throughout the year to highlight the institution’s history and service to students and District 502 residents over the past half-century.

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