Unstoppable Dreams: A Nurse’s Incredible Journey in America

October 16, 2023  |  Unistaff Content Team

Cabahug Family Photo with American Flags
From Humble Beginnings to Unstoppable Dreams


The journey to becoming a registered nurse in the U.S. is long and challenging. For more than ten years, our teams at Universal Staffing have worked with thousands of nurses. Navigating the complex processes involved and making sure their American dreams come true is our priority.

Is it possible for nurses from humble backgrounds to succeed? And what happens when illegal recruiters get in their way? Discover a journey of resilience and determination. From a rural farm in the Philippines to thriving as a nurse in America. How did this nurse overcome setbacks? Can your dreams defy challenges too?

Read Edwin Cabahug's incredible story and join him in an inspiring quest for greatness.

I want to share my journey with you, not to boast, but to inspire fellow nurses looking to make their mark in America. Despite tough times, I succeeded. And I'm grateful to all who joined me on this amazing journey. I hope my story can offer some valuable life lessons. So, let's start at the beginning.


Humble Beginnings

I grew up in a simple family – not rich, not poor. I didn't have all the fancy toys and things that some kids had. My parents worked tirelessly; my dad as a farmer and my mom managing our home. After school, I'd join my dad on our family's farm. We were close-knit, and my three brothers and four sisters were like a team. We even welcomed my first cousin into our family after her mother's passing, and she became like another sister. My maternal grandmother was also an important part of our lives. 

With eight siblings, it might seem impossible for our parents to provide for us, especially on a small piece of land. But somehow, we made it work. My older siblings helped me get through college, and once I found stability, I helped them find opportunities to work abroad after they graduated. We all stand on our own feet now, no longer relying on each other.

My education was far from fancy. I studied in the peaceful town of Lemery, Batangas in the Philippines, never attending a private school. I completed elementary studies in 1984 at Payapa Elementary School, and in 1988, I graduated with honors from Payapa Barangay High School. We couldn't afford private schools, it felt like an elusive dream. So we learned within our community. 


The American Scam 

After getting my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Quezon City Medical Center and Colleges in 1992, I set my sights on America. My family supported me wholeheartedly, even selling a piece of our land to fund my dream. My parents invested $18,000.00 to process my papers, and I boarded a plane on New Year's Eve in 1996. It was my first international journey, landing at LAX on that special night. However, things didn't go as planned. Incomplete documents led to a heartbreaking setback at the LA immigration office, detaining me on New Year's Eve. I was so afraid and frustrated. It was a horrible situation, and I returned to Manila feeling embarrassed and overwhelmed. For two months, I struggled with how to repay my father’s sacrifice.

But I couldn't hide forever, and my parents' unwavering support meant everything to me. Despite the scam that caught me, their love and belief in my American dream never wavered. This journey taught me about resilience and the strength of family. With determination and support, I knew I could still pursue my dreams. Confidence might be a slow journey, but even in the face of failure, there are people willing to lend a hand.

Edwin Cabahug Family 1
Mr. & Mrs. Cabahug

Opening New Doors

With the help of Universal Staffing, I got back on track. Universal Staffing is well-known for offering opportunities to work abroad. They were my lifeline. They believed in my ability to bounce back. No matter how many years pass, I always feel thankful to those who stood by me from the beginning; for without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. Universal Staffing remains to be part of my support system. They are always ready to assist families seeking opportunities overseas. My journey led me to places I never imagined. Universal Staffing played a pivotal role in helping me secure my job in the Middle East from 1996 to 2005. All thanks to the CEO, Yolanda De Castro, and her team. I spent nearly nine years there, watching many fellow nurses move to the US, Canada, and the UK, while I remained in the UAE.

I made a bold decision during this time. I decided to apply to work in the UK while waiting for my US papers. My determination remained strong, even when facing deportation in LAX in 1996. Instead of crushing my dreams, that moment fueled my desire to achieve my American dream. I faced legal issues in the US, but I refused to give up. I hired the best legal representation to fight for my rights, and with determination, I sorted out my papers in 2005.

November 14, 2005, is a date etched in my memory. It was the day I received my green card during an interview in the UK. It symbolized my hard-fought battle. I'm forever grateful to God and my exceptional lawyer, whose unwavering support carried me through.

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Moving to America

On January 1, 2006, I made the life-changing decision to move to America. I knew challenges awaited, but I had the strength to face them. Life in America was vastly different from the UK and the Middle East, but I embraced the change, driven by incredible opportunities in the medical field. For almost a decade, I worked tirelessly in the Emergency Room as a traveling nurse. It was demanding, and I wondered how to handle the mounting stress. But every challenge only fueled my determination.

Edwin Cabahug Graduation
Edwin Cabahug continues to develop himself in the US

Unstoppable Dreams

That's when I decided to return to school, believing that challenges are stepping stones to triumphs. I earned my Master of Science in Nursing from Charles Drew University in Los Angeles, California, in 2016 and became a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Today, I work as a dedicated Nurse Practitioner in Family Medicine in Kern Medical and as a provider at Walk-In Clinic in Clinica Sierra Vista. It's demanding, but knowing I contribute to people's well-being fills me with satisfaction.

I've learned that faith and self-trust are essential in fulfilling our daily commitments. Age should never stop you from pursuing further education. At 52, I completed my Doctorate Program at Charles Drew University. My Doctoral Project was focused on "The Impact of Diabetes Education on Glycemic Control and Self-Efficacy Delivered via WhatsApp in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Rural Health." I'm thankful to everyone who supported me on this journey.

Now, I'm in the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program at National University, aiming to create new opportunities for myself and my family. I want a fulfilling career that lets me work from home and be there for my two precious children. In the medical field, learning never ends, and although I'm not a Medical Doctor, I'm a Doctor of Nursing Practice, fully committed to my patients' well-being. My secret to success? Treat every patient as if they were family, and challenges become opportunities.

Edwin Cabahug and his 2 children
Edwin Cabahug and his two children

Empower More Nurses

To my fellow dreamers and achievers, remember that your age and background should never hold you back. Keep moving forward, let your passion guide you on your remarkable journey to greatness.

In 2023, amidst my busy schedule, I founded "Dr. ECABAHUG TRAVEL NURSING CONSULTANT Inc." – a beacon of hope for nurses pursuing their American dream with a green card in hand. My journey began in 1997, helping fellow nurses find their path. But it was a personal setback, a deceptive recruiter, that pushed me to create this company. I refuse to let others endure what I did. Today, I stand proudly, having guided many nurses to fulfill their dreams of working across different states. I’ve kept in touch with many of them over the years. I’m committed to continue empowering nurses and helping them achieve their goals.

Cabahug Family Photo 2
Edwin Cabahug and his Family

Big Life Lessons

My life today includes my wonderful kids, aged 4 and 7, my wife, and my parents, living with us. Nearby, my youngest brother and his family share the same neighborhood. Many of my nieces and nephews have pursued nursing careers and achieved success in the US with green cards.

This journey has been filled with hard work and heartfelt prayers. One of the greatest blessings is having my parents by my side, especially as they witness my children growing. It's something I never imagined, and I'm grateful that they experience the joys of being here in America.

As I wrap up my story, I want to share some of the big lessons that life has taught me along the way:

  • Challenges are precious stones on your path. Each obstacle refines you and brings your dreams closer. Keep moving forward despite life’s twists and turns. 

  • Detractors can be your motivators. Let their doubts fuel your determination. Let your hard work speak louder than their words.

  • Authenticity, compassion, and trust are true treasures of wealth. Be yourself and nurture trustworthy relationships. 

  • Gratitude guides your path, even at the summit of success. Be brave enough to seek help. And always be thankful to those who supported you along your journey.

  • Stay positive, even in the face of negativity. Surround yourself with kindred spirits who uplift your soul and fuel your dreams.

  • Craft your legacy with every step you take. Live well and share your stories and lessons with others.

  • Stay rooted, stay humble, and cherish the trust you've built. Embrace the values and experiences that have molded you.

  • Your voice is your power. Let it be heard. Let your positivity drown out the negativity.

  • You are the architect of your destiny. You can achieve great things with faith, perseverance and a growth mindset.

  • Love, cherish, and pray. Take good care of your parents and elderly. Their wisdom and strength have shaped you.

  • Trust the divine plan. Believe that you can overcome any adversity.

Edwin Cabahug and his family enjoying winter
Edwin Cabahug and his family enjoy their life in the US

It’s Your Turn 

May these words be your guiding light, your source of strength, and a reminder that you have the power within you to overcome, inspire, and achieve greatness. You can make the world a better place. Stay optimistic, stay determined, and let your legacy ignite the unstoppable human spirit.


Apply Now!

Are you ready to begin your journey? Take the first step to changing your life for the better. If you have always dreamed of working as a USRN and living your American dream, click on the link below to submit your application. The Universal Staffing U.S. team experts are here to help you every step of the way. Make your American dreams a reality and apply today!

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​USRN's Job Portal



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Unistaff Content Team

This article was put together by Unistaff's team of researchers, creative writers and content creators. We pride ourselves by publishing the most updated pieces of content in our blog section to enable you to make well informed decisions.

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