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When Jesus Bello was told he would be receiving Central Community College-Columbus’ Spirit of Excellence award, he couldn’t help but feeling surprised.

“I was shocked,” Bello said. “I didn’t expect it. I’m very proud. I feel like I have been continuously ongoing (in school) and that (the award) made me realize that my hard work is being recognized.”

Bello was named the 2019 award winner during an April 16 ceremony after previously being nominated by fellow students and professors. The award is designed to celebrate a student who has shown character, integrity, commitment and perseverance.

These are qualities Bello possesses in spades, having spent some eight years working toward a career in nursing while holding down various jobs in order to pay for his classes.

“I’ve usually had two or three jobs to pay for my education,” Bello said.

Bello began school in 2011, going up through the ranks of the nursing department for the next few years before taking a year off to focus on other activities. Since his return, he has received an associate’s degree in nursing, worked at Columbus Community Hospital, tutored other nursing students and served as a substitute nurse at Columbus High School.

Bello said that he has found working at a hospital, college and a school to be three drastically different experiences.

“It’s way different than the hospital setting or even my tutoring settings,” Bello said, referencing working at CHS as a substitute nurse. “It’s very fast-paced and you interact with a lot of students. It’s kind of interesting. Sometimes, a lot of students just want to go in and talk with someone, so it’s cool to interact with them.”

Bello has become a regular at CCC-Columbus’ library, where he can be found tutoring other students and also acting as a mentor for people in the health studies program.

“They see him in here studying, and they’ll just migrate to him,” said Dee Johnson, director of library resources at CCC. “He’s always working with them, helping them and saying, ‘Don’t be afraid of this test, this is what you need to study for, etc. You can just tell that he helps them along, eases their mind (and) that they’ll get through the program just fine.”

Johnson was one of four faculty members who nominated Bello for the award. Every single one of them sung high praises regarding Bello’s work ethic and willingness to help others, while also marveling at the many different tasks that Bello has managed to juggle.

“Sometimes, this Spirit of Excellence award goes to students who you know just get it,” Johnson said. “He just quietly goes about his work here as a student and as a tutor. He’s deeply committed to his goals for himself. It’s amazing that you can do all of that and still have a life.”

After eight long years, Bello is moving on to bigger and better things in the coming weeks. On May 13, he will begin classes at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Bello is excited to progress into the next stage of his life.

“I looked into different (nursing) programs, and what caught my eye about this one is that I could achieve it in a shorter amount of time,” Bello said. “Plus, it was more affordable.”

Bello only has six more classes left before he gets his bachelor’s degree. After college, Bello is looking forward to working in an Intensive Care Unit.

“That’s something that I have been geared to in my nursing career,” Bello said.

In addition, Bello said he looks forward to relaxing a bit more when he isn't so bogged down with studies. At least for a little while, anyway.

“(I’m going to) start enjoying life,” Bello said. “I think I put myself through so much work in education. After a while, I’m going to start traveling more. Maybe (I’ll) work on my master's (degree), I’m not sure yet.”

Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zach.roth@lee.net.

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