The Catalyst to Change
I remember my first day of high school vividly. As I entered the huge front gates that lock away my school from the outside world, I made the quiet promise to myself that high school would be different. I was done with fights and bullying, today was a new day, and as I put my hand on the front door I would need to open for myself for the next four years, I made the promise that I would never get suspended again.
My first class that day was honors biology, and never before had I felt the exclusion I faced in that class. Telling a room full of people who’s parents where highly educated, that your parents dropped out of college and your older siblings dropped out of high school, leads to a lot of whispering. Many times I was told that I could never be a doctor, people like me, who settled for Bs and Cs, could never make it.
My only salvation in that class was my teacher, Mrs Mullin, she was always bright and bubbly, and told me that I had a treasure trove of potential to unlock. At first I didn’t believe her, how could someone like me, someone with a low GPA and two suspensions have any sort of potential? Nevertheless, Mrs Mullin handed me a piece of paper that would change everything for me, it was a flyer that read “HOSA: Future Health Professionals, first meeting Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 in the commons at 3:00pm”
My experience with HOSA has changed not only who I am as a person, but also the way that I present myself, the way I view health careers and the way I view higher levels of education. As a first generation college student I had no clue how to start the process of college, how to pay for it, or how to succeed with harder classes that contained a harder and heavier course load.
With over 50% of all HOSA members being apart of at least one minority group, I found people like me, people who also struggle with the challenge of being a first generation college student, people who also feel out of place in the honors and AP classrooms. The only way I could meet these people though, was through getting involved, and so, I started to get involved in every way I could. I took every opportunity, whether I was interested in the material or not, because HOSA had become my safe place, my place to be me, and at the time I didn’t know the effect my actions would have on me.
I visited all kinds of colleges, viewed all kinds of health careers, and learned new leadership skills everyday. I learned the ins and out of college, I learned how to study and how to increase my GPA. HOSA gave me the opportunity to explore internship and community service opportunities, and yet, I still had no clue what I wanted to do in health.
The problem is that I loved everything I did, I could see myself as a pharmacist, a surgen, a dentist, or a family physician, in my mind, all of these were within reach, I just needed to dedicate to reach out and grab what I wanted, and if there’s one thing HOSA taught me, it’s that I belong somewhere, even if I dedicate myself to one line of life, I will be pulled back to the place I belong, so I began to explore everything my school had to offer.
At my school, we provide college level classes for those wanting to presue their CNA (certified nursing assistant) and their EMT (emergency medical technician). After passing my nursing aid class, and completing half of my EMT course, something sparked in me, a bumbling thought that got louder and louder as the days passed by, what if I became a nurse?
Soon enough, I was gobbling up every chance I could to explore nursing, shadowing and volunteering became more and more common, I began to find myself mentors, both retired nurses and current ones. I had found my niche, now I needed to learn how to apply it.
To complete my CNA requirements I needed to first complete my clinical training, it was time to explore a real job in the health field. As I stepped through the doors the of nursing facility, it was like a warm burst of air hit me, and all my fear and anxiety was gone. I had done this hundreds of times, I had entered buildings alone, performed tasks I had never done before, and lived to see myself grow from each and every experience. This was nothing. HOSA has provided me with opportunities similar to this one, I just had to take the first step in the door, so I did.
What followed after the door shut behind me was an experience that changed the way I viewed nursing as a whole. I met many wonderful people, who lived a life I admire. One of the most impactful parts of my clinical experience was when something HOSA had taught me came back to me. Medical Reading is a HOSA competition where competitors read five books related to health sciences. As an old man yelled at me for moving his pants up to high, I remembered the most impactful message I received from a book thus far in life, have compassion, and I did. I reminded myself how I would feel in this situation, and as I turned my attention back to the older gentleman I sympathized with him. I saw his gaze change as he quietly forgave me, and later in my shift, we sat down for a game of cards.
That night I went home, my white scrubs had been stained, my hair a mess, but my smile still intact. I was made to spread compassion, the way being compassionate and loving made me feel was an experience I cannot begin to describe to you. I went home with my bucket full and my heart happy, I really didn’t find my place.
I strive to be the nurse I never had, growing up, I was dismissed as a poorly behaved kid who was bound to drop out of high school like the rest of my family, but the teachers who saw something in me, something I couldn’t yet see, pushed me to divert my course from crash landing into success, I began to change into the person I am today.
I don’t want to go into the medical field for just the human body, the science or cell theory, I want to go into the medical field to raise up the girls like me who were over looked for their families accomplishments, I want to help everyone I possibly can to grow and learn and spread compassion and love the way my Honors Biology teacher did so many years ago. I don’t just want to see the future change, I will make it bend to my own good natured will.
No, HOSA did not make me a whole new person, but it did guide me to the place I needed to go, to learn about study habits, leadership skills and college itself is revolutionary for a first generation college student. To continue to grow into harder and harder classes, and achieve leadership positions I now hold such as being a state officer means I’ve taken my success as a first generation college student to a whole new level. No, HOSA didn’t change who I was, instead HOSA was the catalyst I needed to change who I was and the path I was heading down.
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