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Nicole Bernal wins KENS 5 EXCEL Award for Randolph Field ISD

She built a program for students in the medical field from the ground up.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Texas — Most students graduate high school with a diploma, but at Randolph High School, some seniors walk away with a certification as Medical Assistants, Phlebotomists and E-K-G Techs.  

It’s all thanks to their teacher, who built the program from the ground up, using her many years in the medical field. 

She has a reputation for being tough but with a 100% pass rate during the first five years of her program.  

KENS 5 Anchor Sarah Forgany and KENS 5 partner Credit Human presented Bernal with the EXCEL Award for Randolph Field ISD.  

Right out of high school, Nicole Bernal hit the ground running working as an EMT and going to college.

“I've always been fascinated with the human body and it just kind of fit.  I worked at University Hospital in the emergency room.”

She spent a decade doing that before making the switch. Her room looks a lot different these days. 

Bernal is still a certified EMT, only she doesn’t ride a truck or work in the hospital anymore. 

“I am the CTE Health Science Teacher.” 

For years now, she’s been teaching students at Randolph high School.    

“She does everything in her power to make sure we're ready for college,” said Erica Washington, a senior at the school. 

There are seven classes in Bernal’s extensive science program, covering freshman to senior year. 

Her courses begin with the basics of science and end with Practicum where students get hands on experience in a classroom that’s been transformed into a makeshift clinic. But before they make it to that final course, they must go through an interview process with Bernal herself.

“They have to interview with me, kind of like a boss and potential employee so they can start getting used to that process.“

The process is rigorous but Bernal sees it as essential preparation for the real world.  

“You'll graduate high school with your CCMA, your phlebotomy and EKG certification,” Zoe Rawls said who’s almost finished with the program. She graduates this year. 

Rawls and other kids learn patient assessments, vital signs, and even how to draw blood. 

 “They practice on each other,” Bernal said, “They practice on me, and on fellow faculty. They volunteer and then we have family members that come in and volunteer.” 

Bernal says they have externships with clinics where they volunteer at doctor’s offices to get more hands on experience.

She says a health and wellness million dollar grant from the Department of Defense has helped expand her courses.  

Her students agree Bernal’s classes are tough but say she makes them better. 

“She makes me know that, like, I can do it,” said one of the seniors, “and she believes in me, which pushes me to go harder. “

Principal Mark Malone says Bernal’s dedication to this program made it possible for these kids to succeed.

“I talked about how she's a hard teacher and what I mean by that is she has very, very high expectations. And in today's society, a lot of times, kids don't want to be pushed but she does in a way that they know that she loves them,” said Dr. Malone, “Every kid that's taken the test in her class has passed. She's got 100% pass rate. It's just a phenomenal success rate that she's had with her kids. “

Bernal says physical preparedness is crucial but so is mental readiness. She doesn’t hold back sharing her emotional challenges and the reason she left the hospital system it in the first place. 

“I had a lot of patients that didn't make it and I was just having a really hard time and I decided I needed to do something different.”

Teaching her program has been her happy place since. She says like the medical field, it’s rewarding but in a much different way.

“I'm a blood and guts kind of girl and I like the adrenaline rush and I like helping people. “

Bernal’s also the swim team sponsor.

She received a $1,000 check from KENS 5 partner Credit Human as part of the KENS 5 EXCEL Award. 

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