Nursing major, wife finds inspiration in helping others


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Nursing major Lalina Binaley takes on multiple roles as she studies to become a certified nurse in the Contra Costa College nursing department.

By Jessica Suico, News Editor

Few women can bear the burden of being a student and mom while a military spouse is on duty. Maintaining normalcy through uncertainty becomes second nature, especially with family support as a backbone.
Nursing major Lalina Binaley believes her passion in life is to help people in need. She loves hearing people tell their stories and feels honored when they ask for her help or advice.
An inspirational woman who strives for her goals and dreams, Binaley, through the motivation provided by her son, embraces her role as a nursing student and wife of an enlisted sailor.
At Contra Costa College, her determination has been a light that guides others toward achieving their goals.
“Not everyone has someone to speak with, open up to, or confide in. So, I think it’s important to check in with people and offer help,” Binaley said.
Binaley said that being a Navy wife comes with a lot of responsibility and because of the relative unpredictability of her husband’s job, she, and others like her, must have inner-strength to be married to someone in service.
“The military is not for the faint of heart — and that’s whether you’re active duty or the spouse,” she said.
Binaley remembers hearing stories from other military wives about what supportive duties entail and what type of person it takes to succeed in them.
“They said, ‘To be a military spouse, you must be stronger than the person in the military,’” Binaley said. “Your husband and children will depend on the wife to hold the family together, so you must be the glue. You have to be strong even when you’re not.”
Binaley was born and raised in the Bay Area. Her family is from San Francisco and she went to school in Vallejo. After high school, she moved to Los Angeles and lived there for two years before she was ready to make her way back north.
The Southern California lifestyle did not fit the path she envisioned for herself.
“I thought it was funny how superficial people were out there and that turned me off. I’m definitely more of your hippy, Northern Californian,” Binaley said.
Now back in the Bay Area, Binaley’s main focus is finishing nursing school and passing the National Council Licensure Examination and become a registered nurse. She has been at CCC since the spring of 2010.
“Community colleges are so amazing. You don’t have to meet any requirements (for entrance), just the willingness to want to learn and you’re in.”
It was during her second stint in Northern California that Binaley met her husband, Cameron Jones, a sailor currently stationed in Virginia, while both attended CCC. They met while working out in the Fitness Center on campus while Jones was a member of the Comet baseball team.
Nursing major Tamy Lee said, “Lalina (Binaley) is very determined to reach her goals and she is very hard working. The fact she is a Navy wife, a mom and a student is amazing.”
“She commutes every day from Oakland to CCC. On weekends, she travels to Sacramento to spend time with her family. She inspires me to keep striving for my goals.” Lee said she doesn’t understand how Binaley keeps the energy she does to wake up everyday and keep working toward her goals.
“Sometimes she gets little to no sleep when we have exams or midterms to study for. She truly is remarkable,” Lee said.
Nursing major Christopher Salabao said, “Lalina is fun, encouraging and strong. She is such a free spirit with a wild heart. She stays strong through the adversity she faces daily.”
Salabao met Binaley in fall of 2017. They were in the same clinical rotation group in nursing.
Salabao said, “We hit it off immediately.”
“Her laugh is contagious and her positive energy makes the day easier,” he said.
Salabao said her son calls him uncle and that he has become close with her family. They also had joint family functions during break.
He wasn’t expecting to get as close as he is with Binaley and her family, but he is happy it happened.
“We’re a family within a family. I have another person to call big sister. She teaches me every day to be a better person, which is all I can ask for,” Salabao said.
When her classes are securely in her rear-view mirror, she will have two associate degrees — one in nursing.
“If all goes well I’ll be graduating with my ADN next spring debt-free,” Binaley said. “I could not be more grateful.”
Binaley said California has some of the toughest standards for nursing so it was wise for her to get her degree here. Becoming certified based on her work at CCC will allow her to work anywhere in the country.
“You can’t say that about all nursing colleges across the country,” Binaley said.
How she manages to find time to balance the multitude of tasks and responsibilities is a mystery to even her.
Binaley said, “I am constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to find time to study for my classes.
“Women, we are remarkable creatures. When you become a mother, there is no room for failure. You must keep going,” Binaley said. “I take each day as it comes and try to stay task oriented. If you want something bad enough, you just find a way.”
Binaley’s favorite things about living in the Bay Area are the good vibes, the support of her friends and family and her favorite food — crab.
“I’m Hawaiian and Filipino so I live for crab,” she said. “Surprisingly places like New York, Hawaii, Virginia Beach and Miami are not big on crab dishes. Who would’ve known all my vacation spots wouldn’t have good crab?”
She said she feels blessed to have some good seasonal crab available here in the Bay Area.