ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A mother and son duo are working to make a dent in New Mexico’s healthcare crisis with both of them pursuing nursing degrees at the University of New Mexico at the same time. Melissa and Brian Wyaco are from the Zuni Pueblo. They are not just mother and son, now they are also schoolmates at UNM.

“My mom was mostly the one that pushed me to get a college education,” said Brian to UNM. “Was not just her, it was basically my whole family, especially my grandma.”

Brian is pursuing his bachelor’s in nursing while Melissa is studying for her doctorate. Both will graduate next spring but it’s actually not the first time they’ve crossed the graduation stage together.

“That second time I went back I was pregnant with him. So he graduated with me when I got my bachelor’s degree,” said Melissa. Brian said it was the lack of Native American nurses that inspired him to go back to school. From his time with the Indian Health Service, Brian said sharing a common background can make a big difference in getting Native American patients to open up.

Melissa’s other son also works in the field at Indian Health Service. “As a mom, you want the best for your kids. They both have done a tremendous job and I’m so very proud of them,” said Melissa.

According to the UNM article, after graduating Brian plans to move back to Zuni to serve his community. Both he and his mom say they hope other Native American students are inspired to enter the health field.

“I know that they’ll continue to do what they’re doing. Not just looking after the community that we’re from but also the surrounding areas and where they work and what they’re doing to improve the healthcare, especially in rural areas,” said Melissa.