Renee Billner-Garcia

Renee Billner-Garcia

Dean's Scholar

College of Applied Sciences and Arts


Why did you choose your major?

I graduated from DeAnza with my Associate degree in nursing in 1986. I had always intended to go back for my Baccalaureate, but then life happened….! I found a great job, got married and then had two kids. I was just cruising along until my employer changed some of the requirements for my job, and one of those happened to be a BSN. SJSU has an amazing RN to BSN Bridge program that I was able to do while still being able to work my 12 hour night shift position at Stanford Children’s.


What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

This was completely unexpected and very humbling. I really don’t go through life looking for accolades. I learned a long time ago to live my life as fully as possible and strive always for being the best at what you do, even if it isn’t always easy or pretty getting there.


Who has been influential in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic success?

My dad was my very first and probably my greatest influence. There was always an expectation that I would go to college and that I would be a strong, independent woman. He was very smart but only went to a year or two of community college and he wanted better for his four kids. He passed away in 1997, but I know he is watching this all with a huge grin on his face!

Next would be my kids- my daughter for her fearlessness and openness to the world that I have tried to emulate and my son for his resilience in the face of his dyslexia.


Did you overcome any hardships or adversities in your life that have helped shape who you are today?  And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?

My hardships or adversities are no different than anyone else’s. A marriage has its ups and downs, jobs are won and lost, money is plentiful and then it’s scarce, new lives begin and others end. I have just tried to look for meaning and lessons in each of my major life experiences and tried to mindfully incorporate these into my life going forward.


What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

Setting goals is so essential to your success in academics and in life. Start with small, easy to obtain goals to build your self-confidence and strengthen your resiliency, and then tackle the bigger goals ahead. Try to be your best every day- some days will be better than others, but each new day is a new chance to try again. I really believe that how you manage your life reflects on how you manage your academics.

And, I’m really sorry, but you really do have to do all the homework and you really do have to study………..!

P.S. Extra credit is “money in the bank”


How do you envision yourself in 5-10 years?

I am coming back (hopefully!) in the fall to start my masters in nursing informatics. I hope to be working a great day job that allows me help nursing and the tech sector come together to develop electronic medical records technology that improves both the nurse experience and patient safety.


A few words from her nominating professor:

Renee brought experience and professionalism into not only the classroom, but into every activity and assignment. She inspired and coached other students to achieve that same level of professionalism.

- Professor Lori Rodriguez