SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – It has been a lifelong dream for Hilda Smith to become a registered nurse.

In 2019, it finally happened.

“Holy Names University came out with a program LVN-to RN, and I applied for that. I was accepted. I got my Bachelor of Science in Nursing,” Smith said.

She was 63-years-old.

She didn’t stop there.

“I got my Master of Science in Nursing in 2020 I believe and I was 72-years-old when I got it,” Smith said.

What’s even more remarkable is while she was pursuing her ambition to help others as a nurse, she was simultaneously fighting for her own life.

“While I was in the bachelor of science program I was diagnosed with Lupus but I got through that by God’s grace. Coming into the master’s program I was diagnosed in May of 2019 with breast cancer. I went through the chemo and I went through the radiation but I have felt God present. When I was going through the chemo I never missed a day of church,” she said.

COVID-19 has made Berkeley’s Church By the Side of the Road service virtual and as you can see, Rev. Hilda Smith still hasn’t missed a day.

“I am a licensed ordained minister. In 2004 I got my Masters in Divinity.”

The Oakland resident says her amazing journey of helping others began where she grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“I got married when I was 16-years-old, and the day after I got married my mother died. At that time I had a brother that was two-months-old, and a sister that was 16-months-old and I took them. I moved out here when I was 26-years-old with 10 children and 300 lbs. of luggage on the train. When I was in New Orleans I worked at VA Hospital and I was always someplace that I should be as a medical secretary. The director of nursing would always say, go to nursing school if you want to be a nurse. The discrimination was like really there.”

In fact, she says it was a racial discrimination that prolonged her becoming a registered nurse even though she was qualified.

“I was voted, elected, President of California Student Vocational Nurses Association and I still tried to get into an RN program,” she said.

Fast-forward to today and registered nurse Smith is now responsible for training nurses at Sutter Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley.

She’s doing it all while being a mom, grandmother, and great great grandma.

If you think she’s slowing down, guess again!

“I cook! I cook for the church. I cook for everybody. I feel my activity keeps me going and I feel that I’m not going to sit down until God says sit down.”

Hopefully, that is a long time from now.