From November 13th until November 18th, I hosted a Native American student from the Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico as part of the Jemez-to-BC program. The purpose of this program is to bring 12 high school students from Jemez to Boston College (BC) to show them what a college experience is like. The students attended classes with us and heard presentations about the first year of college, the admission process, and financial aid. Activities in Boston included a Freedom Trail walk, a Quincy Market visit, and a Fenway Park tour. The students also performed some of their native dances for the BC community.
This experience allowed me to understand what it feels like to be a minority. During this program, I had at least one Native American with me at all times. Heads turned when they saw us and several people came up to us and started speaking Spanish, assuming it was the visiting students’ native language. Truth is, not many of them spoke any Spanish at all. They only had taken Spanish for one year, as it is a requirement in school. In Jemez, the native language is Towa, which is unique to the people living on the reservation.
Out of the twelve students from Jemez, three, including the one I hosted, want to become nurses. I was able to give them a lot of information about the career and the education required. The experience made me think of our KILN meeting last month, where we talked about the assumptions people make on the basis of one’s physical traits. For example, nurses from racial and ethnic minorities are sometimes assigned to patients with the same race or ethnicity. I kept wondering if the student I hosted would be assigned to Spanish-speaking patients when she becomes a nurse. She does not speak Spanish, but people assume she does because of her physical appearance. I definitely learned a lot more about what it feels like to be a minority and that one cannot rely solely on first impressions. Overall, it gave new insight to my career as a nurse.
This event allowed me to exercise some leadership skills such as listening to others and being open-minded and receptive to their comments. The visiting students looked up to me as a friend, as a college student, and as a future nurse. This event also taught me that people from different backgrounds have different opportunities. Many of the students we hosted are going to be the first college students in their families. They are unfamiliar with the college application process and do not know if they can afford a college education. In general, this was an amazing experience. I am so excited that most of the students plan to apply to Boston College and how many are excited to be nurses.