Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Aspire Learning Center: Birth of a child gave Kaylee Guerena motiviation to finsih school, pursue medical career

Kaylee Guerena of Aspire High School, shown holding her daughter, will pursue a career as a pediatric certified nursing assistant.  (Courtesy )
By Elise Jawed For The Spokesman-Review

Kaylee Guerena walked across the stage toward her diploma on April 1. With a pandemic behind her, she was ready to leave high school behind and focus on motherhood.

Guerena attended Mead High School, later transferring to Aspire to complete her senior year and graduate early – a dream she finally realized she could achieve. After she started her final year as a high school student, she learned she was pregnant.

“It was very isolating because I had just chosen to stay remote knowing that since I was pregnant and COVID was going around that it was safer for me to stay home. That definitely isolated me because I didn’t have any social experiences while pregnant,” said Kaylee.

Guerena said her pregnancy motivated her to graduate early. She spent 12 hours a day taking classes and studying, saying she would be on her computer doing schoolwork from the time a regular school day started till 6 p.m.

Guerena spent hours with her instructor, Alice Chapman, one-on-one, taking her classes while preparing for her baby girl. Chapman said Guerena was one of her most persistent students.

“I’m so proud of her. We had a plan. We mapped it out: what she could do and what she had to do before her kiddo was born. Of course that was all thrown out when she had her child prematurely,” Chapman said.

Guerena’s baby was ready before she was. On April 29, 2021, a little over halfway through a full term pregnancy, Guerena was rushed into the hospital for an emergency C-section at only 24 weeks. Guerena had a seizure while doctors were performing her surgery, further complicating her daughter’s birth. She had to recover for a day from her surgery and seizure before she could finally meet her baby girl.

Because of the premature birth, Guerena could only visit her baby in the neonatal intensive care unit .

To visit her daughter, she had to get a full COVID screening before entering the NICU. She could only visit her baby at certain times, and parents were the only visitors allowed.

Despite all obstacles, Guerena visited her daughter at the hospital every day. She worked with multiple programs and learned firsthand from the hospital how to take care of an infant in critical care, but she struggled as a parent with a child in the NICU.

“We worked with different programs that had extra help for us as parents because sadly the hospital doesn’t have support groups for NICU parents,” Guerena said.

Her routine fell into a rhythm: home, hospital, school, repeat. She followed this rhythm till she could bring her baby home.

Guerena’s senior year experience was confining, but she stayed motivated through it all. Guerena’s visits to the NICU encouraged her to pursue a career as a pediatric certified nursing assistant. Her daughter is now at home after several months of hospital visits.