How David Low Turned His Job Loss into an Opportunity at CNM

He knew now was the time to pursue a degree
April 08, 2020

Like millions of Americans, David Low, 19, was set to lose his job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A tree trimmer by trade, jobs dried up because most trimmings weren’t deemed essential. He was scared, understandably, but then realized now was actually the perfect time to enroll at CNM and chase that career in nursing he’d always dreamed about.

“When all this hit, it gave me the chance to rethink everything,” David says. “So I decided to just go for it.”

David didn’t pursue college earlier because he thought higher education wasn’t for him. He attended three high schools growing up and left hating the classroom. A job seemed like his only choice. He started tree trimming in Colorado because his dad and brother were in the business up there and he liked it initially. Climbing and sawing trees was exciting and never routine.

Problem was, the tree trimming business didn’t have a lot of room for advancement and didn’t offer medical benefits. That was a risk for David because he has something called Von Willebrand disease where his blood doesn’t clot as quickly as it should. He hadn’t suffered a major accident yet while trimming, but if he had, he would have been in trouble.  

“I wanted to find something else but hadn’t really figured out what came next,” he says.

CNM popped up on David’s radar—even thought he was living in Colorado—because his mom decided to move from Colorado to New Mexico after she lost her job, too. That, and David has an uncle here in Albuquerque who told him he could live in his guest house if he helped fix it up and if he considered going back to school.

Both David and his mom came down right before both Colorado and New Mexico enacted stay-at-home orders, and David immediately applied to CNM. His plan is to enroll in the Fall Term, take prerequisite classes and eventually apply to the nursing program. He applied for financial aid to offset the cost, and is still making money by doing tree jobs here and there.

David chose nursing for two reasons. First, he eventually wants to be a nurse practitioner because that job will allow him to pursue jobs outside the hospital. As a tree trimmer, David says he likes being in the field and doesn’t want to be stuck in one building. And second, David says he does well in the kinds of stressful situations nurses often face. Even 100 feet up in a tree, he could always keep his bearings. 

All that said, David does admit that he is a little nervous about heading back to school. It’s been a couple years and he has a long road ahead of him if he’s going to become a nurse practitioner. Nonetheless, he’s glad that what could have been a major loss has become a new path forward. 

“Sure I’m feeling a little anxious,” he says. “I’m jumping into a large commitment. But sometimes you have to just take what comes, see the possibilities, and not overthink it.”