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Fighting COVID-19: Samantha's Story

I was always a people person, but, as a student, I knew I could be more honest with myself and what I wanted to do with my life. 

I had tremendous culture shock in college. Being a minority, speaking Spanish at home, I didn’t really get to see my type of community in college. I wanted to keep my cultural identity intact. 

I went to an America Needs You information session and met tons of people that were in the same boat as me. I could see myself in a group of people like this. A big thing that I took away my cohort: at the end of the day, all of us were embarking on the same journey. 

Before ANY, I was shy, not sure of myself, just kind of going with what everyone else was doing. Because of ANY, I was able to really be honest.

 I was teetering back and forth the idea of being a doctor, or a physician’s assistant, but I knew I was too much of a people person. The idea of merging nursing and public health really spoke to me. In addition to my bachelor’s degree in public health, I decided to do a population health certificate program, and now I’m currently in nursing school. I’m using a lot of what I learned in my certificate program and my undergraduate degree together.

The most important thing is to address our individual society, and how we elevate the voices of others that don’t have the same opportunities that we do,  which is why I’m so thankful that I’m embarking on this journey of being a nurse. I work in the Intensive Care Unit [at Trinitas Regional Medical Center], so I saw the worst of the worst. To this day I use what I learned at ANY to guide me.

I remember at ANY during the last couple of workshop sessions, they mentioned self-care, wellness and what to do in times of stress. I found myself being  able to do that more confidently, and being able to advocate for myself. 

I think that’s the most important thing in this pandemic: to advocate for yourself and  your wellbeing to ensure you’re able to help others. 

The more I work in  the ICU and the more I do the [COVID-19] contact tracing job, the more passionate I become about changing things in their entirety. My plan is to finish  nursing school, finish off my master’s in public health, find a way to combine degrees in public health and nursing, and eventually healthcare politics. Access to resources, access to getting to the hospital, having health insurance, all these basic needs that everyone should have no matter what country you’re from, what language you speak, what your racial, ethnic, religious background is. At the end of the day everyone needs access to healthcare.

If it wasn’t for ANY, I don’t know where I would be in life. I don’t know if I would still be shy, kind of scared of taking risks and initiative.

Everything happens for a reason in this lifetime, and I’m glad ANY came across my path and my life and I was able to take an opportunity to be a part of such an amazing program.

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