A Colorado Springs health care professional is up for a pretty big honor. On Saturday, July 12th, he could receive a Nurse of the Year Award for his work with Alzheimer's patients. And if you ask his friends and co-workers, Ulysses Diwa certainly deserves the honor.
"I thought, Lord, these people are here, but they are not here. And they need family members. So that's how I started working on Alzheimer's care," says Diwa.
Growing up in the Philippines, he always knew he wanted to help people. And he always knew he wanted to come to America. "It's like the American system always gives you that privilege and the opportunity to succeed in that field," he says.
And succeed he has. Diwa's been all over the world, received some of his education in Europe, and now he's one of 49 people across the country nominated for "Excellence Honors."
Kelly Everly is the administrator for the Pikes Peak Care Center, where Diwa works. "He told me once that he coined the phrase, 'We're brothers in caring.' And that's very appropriate."
Despite all of the praise he receives, Diwa doesn't think he's any different from his co-workers. "I am good because they are good, and when we work together to achieve what's on our plate for the day, we finish the day by patting each others shoulder---that was a good job."
Diwa says working with Alzheimer's patients is particularly challenging, but he's able to look deeper. "From the looks of my patients when I care for them, I can see humanity there."
But to understand what guides Diwa, you have to realize---growing up in a third world country that's 90% Catholic is what he considers his saving grace. "'Love thy neighbors as thyself,' and for me that is fulfilling a great commandment. It makes me feel good at the end of the day. 'Lord, I've done it. Thank you.'"
Diwa will be in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 12th to find out if he wins that nursing award.