Image of a young man wearing a hat with his arms crossed

Blue Ridge Community College offers fertile ground for growth

By Ben Hardy, Faculty Chair, Transylvania County Campus 

Blue Ridge Community College student Felipe Duenes was looking for an opportunity to grow professionally and better provide for his family. He found fertile soil at Blue Ridge.

Duenes, a native of Miami, Florida, and son of migrant workers, grew up traveling throughout the Southeast, moving occasionally to follow the crops. After moving to North Carolina in 2016, he found work in landscaping and enjoyed working outdoors. But, said Duenes, “I was getting tired of getting laid off after the fall season, so I decided to apply at Transylvania Regional Hospital. I really wanted to get my foot in the door in the health field, so I applied as a housekeeper there. I’ve been working my way up ever since.”

Inspired by a cousin in Miami who is a Nurse Practitioner and his co-workers at Transylvania Regional Hospital, at age 29, Duenes decided to do something no one else in his family had done: attend college. So, he enrolled in Blue Ridge with the desire to become a nurse. When asked why he wants to be a nurse, Duenes said, “I want something that is challenging, interesting, and allows me to make a difference in people’s lives. I see my peers at work and I see how smart and compassionate they are towards their patients, and they’re so inspirational.”

Now Duenes is a full-time student, full-time employee, and a father to a three-year-old son. He’s excited by the opportunities he sees before him. “I like that in the nursing profession there are a variety of patient care aspects; you don’t always have to do bedside nursing. A nursing degree can open many doors for me. I also want to help and give back to my community.”

Duenes has found Blue Ridge to be an excellent starting point for his journey. He said, “The teachers and staff are highly professional and very involved with students and their success. I could not have chosen a better school. I recommend Blue Ridge to anyone who wants to start working on their career for a brighter future.”

And for Duenes, that future looks bright indeed. After completing his Associate in Applied Science Nursing degree at Blue Ridge, he plans to continue on with a Bachelor’s degree, work as an ICU nurse, and eventually get into forensic nursing.

“Blue Ridge has prepared me by getting me on the right track,” Duenes said.

Duenes’ story is one of many that illustrate Blue Ridge Community College’s vision of transforming lives through the power of learning. Through inspiration from family and coworkers, support from Blue Ridge faculty and staff, and his own hard work, Duenes is sowing seeds of success.

Anyone interested in growing professionally, either in a current field or by starting in a new direction, can find support at Blue Ridge. The College is currently registering for the spring 2022 semester. Qualifying new and returning students can take advantage of the free college initiative again this spring, making a college education more accessible than ever. Current or prospective students can contact the Transylvania County Campus at (828) 883-2520 or visit for more information.