Commencement Stories: Jon Gonzalez, Achieving the American Dream

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Jon Gonzalez, Excelsior College, Master of Science in nursingThere are stories about adults juggling home, work and family, and yet, the story of Jon Rafael Gonzalez resonates as still rather unique. Working more than 60 hours a week at two different jobs in order to support his parents and siblings back in his native Philippines, Jon obtained a Master of Science in nursing from Excelsior. His 4.0 GPA and demonstration of outstanding academic excellence in all nursing courses, including the capstone course, also earned him the 2013 Mildred L. Montag Memorial Award.

The San Diego, California resident migrated to the United States in 1990 with aspirations of achievement. He spent 18 years as an accountant, even earning a Bachelor of Science in business from Excelsior College in 2004. But his passion for health care never wavered and he returned to school for his associate’s degree and eventually became an RN in 2008.

Hoping to become a nurse educator, Gonzalez enrolled in the graduate program in nursing at Excelsior College (specialization in nursing education) after finding a prestigious local brick-and-mortar nursing school didn’t challenge him enough intellectually.  He devoted many lunch breaks to reading nursing journals, articles, and postings from classmates in order to complete his Excelsior degree.

“I love nursing and I love teaching,” said Gonzalez. “I loved my program at Excelsior…the online environment provides a combination of talents (students and instructors) from all around the world. The teachers come with experience and facilitate rich discussions. I learned so much.”

Understanding the nursing shortage firsthand, Gonzalez focused his capstone project on how to develop the next generation of nursing educators. While in the final stages of completing his master’s degree, Gonzalez was offered the opportunity to teach in Kaplan’s pre-licensure RN program. Passionate about his teaching assignment, he implemented several reforms, and drew on skills he learned in his Excelsior graduate courses.

Gonzalez loves his current job and plans to start a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the fall.


Name: Jon Rafael Gonzalez
Position: RN, Sharp Health Care; Instructor, Kaplan College
Degree: Master of Science in nursing (BS in Business, 2004)
Hometown: San Diego, California