PHOTO: Cecilia Igwe-Kalu

Cecilia Igwe-Kalu

Cecilia Igwe-Kalu is the proud recipient of the Estelle Massey Osborne Scholarship, established by the Freedmen's Hospital School of Nursing, Alumni Clubs, Inc.

Cecilia received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of Rhode Island and graduated in 2014 after 4 years in the program. She plans to complete her master’s degree at Simmons University as a Family Nurse Practitioner in May 2023.

While in graduate school part-time, I currently work full-time as a pediatric oncology registered nurse in the biggest children’s hospital in the city of Boston – Boston Children’s Hospital. I have been a nurse in pediatric oncology for 7 years and prior to this specialty, I worked for one year in the medical/surgical/oncology specialties in a small community hospital outside of Boston.

Growing up, I lived under my maternal aunt’s shadow – always wanting to be like her. She was so close to my mother so I would see her every day. As a child, I remember watching her graduate from nursing school. She gave me her white hat from the ceremony to wear for the rest of the day. From then on, I knew nursing was the career for me. In line with my aunt, I grew up wanting to help and care for others, having a nurturing and caring personality – the career only seemed fitting. After 8 years of nursing experience, I felt ready to grow in my career, to expand my knowledge. As most people would agree, the year 2020 was a year of financial stressors, healthcare challenges, and uncomfortable conversations. The uncomfortable conversations about minority injustices and discrimination in healthcare prompted my desire to become a provider – a face that minority patients would trust in caring for them, a familiar face like their own. Simmons University provides the flexibility of maintaining my full-time job while finding time to attend class – both synchronous and asynchronous.

In wanting to help strengthen my voice and change the nursing profession for the better, I joined the Nursing Cultural and Sensitivity and Diversity Forum (NCSDF) of my institution. The goal of this forum is to allow minority healthcare professionals working in the hospital the opportunity to speak about discrepancies within the field, and brainstorm ways for every patient, family, and employee to feel their culture and practice is acknowledged and valued throughout one’s stay. I am also a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Honor’s Society and the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON).

I have practiced oncology nursing for my entire nursing career but have also grown an affinity for women’s health. When I complete my master’s degree, I hope to combine both specialties as a family nurse practitioner. After many years of experience, my goal is to open my own practice in my community – a healthcare practice continually exemplifying that every patient, family member, and co-worker is acknowledged and valued.

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