First MEPN Cohort Attracts Inspiring Individuals

MEPN student Abraham Agiba, a US Air Force veteran, volunteered this past summer at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos
MEPN student Abraham Agiba, a US Air Force veteran, volunteered this past summer at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos

This year marks the beginning of the nursing school's new Master's Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN). The School has welcomed an inspiring group of dedicated future Master's students to the program, including a new student named Abraham Agiba.

Agiba, who already holds a Master of Science in Healthcare Management from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from California State University, Fullerton, shared his story with us


◊ Tell us a little about your background.

"I am a great display of the melting pot that Southern California represents. My father immigrated from Iran in the late 1970s (before the revolution), with only a couple hundred dollars and a dream to educate himself. I am first generation American from my father’s side. My grandfather on my mother’s side, immigrated to America in the early 1920s. He was a Filipino national and he served in World War I fighting for America.

My maternal great grandmother came to this country from Mexico with her two brothers in the early 1920s as well. My maternal grandmother was first generation here in California, and just to show how different things were back in those days, in my grandmother's high school yearbook (1940), it actually says that she was the first “Mexican girl” to graduate from Torrance High School! My mother is second-generation Californian from a mixed background of Mexican and Filipino. My parents have been the strongest support for my journey in life, not only in educational attainment, but also in every other aspect as well.

As for myself, I train Karate at the Machida Karate Academy in Lomita, a pupil of the Mixed Martial Arts Legend Lyoto Machida, and his brother Chinzo Machida.  I am a veteran of the United States Air Force, where I served as a medic both stateside and overseas in Iraq, continuing a long history of military service in my family including my uncle who also served in the Air Force during Desert Storm, and my two older cousins, who are Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans of the U.S. Army. I have two siblings, an older brother who is a pastor of a church in the South Bay, and a younger sister who aspires to be an attorney one day. I come from the South Bay in the city of Torrance, born and raised in this beautiful city, only a short distance away from the beach cities.


◊ Where have you been working? 

After graduating high school in 2006, I went straight into the military.  I started my medical training right after boot camp and was afforded the opportunity to train at the infamous Wilford Hall Medical Center (In San Antonio Texas), when it was still a level 1 trauma center receiving civilian patients. I rotated through the emergency room, ICU, Oncology wards, psych areas, and pretty much saw everything you could think of over there. I was  taught how to insert Foley catheters, do IV’s and wound debridement, and I also got to deliver a newborn baby in the ER (the husband was caught in traffic).

After coming back to civilian life, I worked as an ambulance driver and dispatcher for a few different companies while I pursued higher education. My most recent employer was the Social Security Administration where I was responsible for the seriously underserved population of Downtown Los Angeles’ “skid row." This experience gave me a deeper understanding of the social and retirement programs that are available to underserved populations.  It also gave me first-hand experience of the hardships the homeless population face (i.e. drug-addiction, dangers of street-life, mental-health problems).

I am currently still a reservist in the United States Air Force, and have been in the service now for almost 12 years.


◊ What made you think of nursing as a career?

Originally, I wanted to become a physician, so I took all the pre-requisites, shadowed a physician, and took the MCAT. Around this same time, a friend visited me from out of town and asked me if I was still interested in working in the healthcare field. The conversation headed into the direction of the future of healthcare and the growing importance of nursing in recovery and healing. After a lot of very deep self-reflection, doing more research into opportunities as a nurse, and also talking to friends and co-workers who were nurses (in the military), I realized that nursing career path was a better fit for me, and I pursued it. 


◊ How did you decide to apply to the MEPN program at UCI?

I actually stumbled upon this program by accident. I was looking for BSN programs and I typed in “good nursing programs” in Southern California, and UC Irvine propagated. It was February of this year, and magically, the original deadline (which had already passed) for the MEPN program had been extended from February 4th, to the 18th. This was all the sign I needed, I got all of my paperwork ready--transcripts, letters of recommendations, etc. -- and sent them off. 


◊ What are you most looking forward to in the program?

I am really looking forward to the clinical rotations, and getting some good hands-on clinical experience. I am also looking forward to growing as an individual (clinical knowledge, professional development, etc.) and as a team with my fellow MEPN and BS counterparts. Machida Karate has taught me the importance of the principle of Kaizen, which means “to continuously improve” not only in karate but also in my personal and professional life.


◊ What are your plans once you complete the program?

After I complete this program, I plan on finding a job and hopefully continuing on to earning a PhD in nursing here at UCI.  I see myself working in the nursing field, but I would like to pursue teaching at the college level. I plan on taking the skills and knowledge I gain from this program and applying them to the military side as well, commissioning as an officer.


◊ How does it feel to be a part of UCI’s inaugural MEPN cohort?

It feels a little surreal to be part of the first MEPN cohort at UCI. The program has a highly selective process and it feels great to have been chosen to be a part of it.  

The Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing MEPN program is a graduate degree program that prepares students to lead innovations in healthcare delivery and elevate nursing care across practice settings. 

The program coursework is designed to prepare graduate-educated nurses with:

  • Research and evidence-based practice competency
  • Expertise in specialized concentrations of nursing practice
  • Leadership role preparation, including collaborative interprofessional team building
  • Leadership skills in health policy to become advocates for health promotion and disease prevention efforts supporting population health

An MS degree, MEPN provides students with a foundation for seamless progression into a research- or practice-focused doctoral program.

Learn more about the MEPN program here and apply today.