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A Family of UTEP Nurses

Last Updated on May 30, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Originally published May 30, 2018

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP Communications

Thirty years after Sondra Skory graduated from the UTEP School of Nursing’s undergraduate nursing program, her son Noah Skory followed in her footsteps.

Noah Skory, left, and his parents John and Sondra Skory are all graduates from UTEP's School of Nursing. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications
Noah Skory, left, and his parents John and Sondra Skory are all graduates from UTEP's School of Nursing. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications

Noah graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UTEP on May 12, 2018, during the afternoon Commencement ceremony. Sondra was one of 15 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) candidates who received their degrees at the ceremony.

The proud mom watched from her seat on the floor of the Don Haskins Center as her son crossed the stage to collect his degree.

“I’m super excited about him graduating,” Sondra said. “We used to tease him about graduating together.”

UTEP has been an indelible part of their family for more than 50 years. Sondra’s father, Jose Avila, graduated from Texas Western College in 1967. He earned a master’s in counseling from UTEP and served as the University’s Dean of Students. Her mom, Elena Avila, was awarded a bachelor’s in nursing from The University of Texas System School of Nursing in 1976 and a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing from UTEP in 1981.

“I was always sure I wanted to come to UTEP and be a nurse,” Sondra said. “UTEP is part of my history.”

Sondra met her husband, John Skory, a nurse practitioner, while they were both in UTEP’s undergraduate nursing program. The couple married in 1991. John earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from UTEP.  

Noah and his older sister grew up listening to their parents' conversations about work at the dinner table and while doing their homework in the hospital breakroom.

He was intrigued by the medical procedures his parents described and how they helped patients recuperate.

“My parents gave me a ton of advice about medical procedures, things that are most important to look for in critical patients, and just general tips and tricks to help keep you on your feet for the entire shift, like wear comfortable shoes!” Noah said with a laugh.

Growing up, his parents would engage Noah in playful banter about wanting him to become a nurse. Ultimately, it was up to Noah to make a decision about his future.

After graduating from Maxine Silva Health Magnet School in 2014, Noah decided to follow his parent’s path to UTEP and pursue a nursing career. He’s accepted a job offer to work in the intensive care unit at the Hospitals at Providence.

“I saw nursing as a great profession,” Noah said. “I like the different people that you meet. Also, I have the ability to help patients recover and to go back to the life that they were living, and that’s always a heartwarming feeling.”

Sondra was one of four students to graduate from UTEP’s first Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program in 2010. After six years as an advanced practice nurse, she decided to continue her family’s legacy at UTEP and began the doctoral program.

Throughout her 30-year career, Sondra mentored countless UTEP students at the hospitals and clinics where she has worked.

The DNP program enabled her to apply her clinical practice experience to teach a new generation of nurses.

“I love teaching,” said Sondra, a clinical instructor in UTEP’s nurse practitioner program. “I love to see the students’ progress when they learn something new.”