My entry into the nursing profession has been somewhat circuitous, and yet, I see it as a natural path. Many of my past experiences have been building blocks for me to become a compassionate health care provider.
My desire to serve my community has been resolute from an early age, but I first focused on the field of education. After obtaining my first Bachelor's in Political Science and English from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, I joined the Peace Corps as an English teacher in Turkmenistan. I taught English to students and trained local English teachers. I incorporated my interest in public health into my curriculum, addressing topics that were pertinent to the community. Immersed in a culture very different from my own, I gained a firsthand understanding of how cultural perspectives and diversity impact all aspects of life. In the absence of supplies and resources, I learned to work with the bare minimum to create viable solutions for challenges facing my community. Faced with situations that I had never experienced before, I also learned much more about myself and my behaviors. For example, I soon realized the importance of listening carefully to and working closely with the community to discover and address the true issues at hand, rather than charging in with "all of the answers".
Upon my return to the U.S., I joined an educational non-profit organization that sent me to work internationally with numerous Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in over 20 countries, six of which were in Africa. During my time in sub-Saharan Africa, I worked closely with health care providers who were confronted with the growing AIDS epidemic. After seeing their commitment to bettering the lives of those around them, my personal interests in health soon became my professional ones.
I returned to school with the goal of becoming a family Nurse Practitioner who would work with underserved populations. I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Johns Hopkins, with the intention of continuing on directly for a joint Masters in Nursing and in Public Health. I began my joint Masters program last summer at the Johns Hopkins. During the first year of this program, I have begun to develop my skills as a nurse practitioner as well as strengthen my programmatic skills in public health, focusing on humanitarian assistance. This year I will continue to do so. I am fortunate to have extremely dedicated and talented nursing faculty as my instructors, and I look forward to continuing to make connections with local physicians, nurse practitioners, and public health professionals to mentor me along my journey.
Currently, I am making home health visits to families of recently resettled Somali Bantu refugees, facilitating their acculturation and bridging gaps that may occur in their health care and promotion. I am also working to establish free, confidential HIV testing in several centers throughout Baltimore with Johns Hopkins' Urban Health Institute.
I have also recently been accepted into the PhD program in Nursing at Hopkins. This will challenge me as well as provide many ways to blend my background in education, my nursing profession, and my public health focus in delivering care to the underserved, either on a domestic or international level, as well as expanding the nursing profession.