Yesenia Japa (CSON ’14), Andrea Lopez (CSON ’14), and Alexandra Paz (CSON ’15) attended the August 2013 National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) Conference in New Orleans. NAHN “is a non-profit professional association committed to the promotion of the professionalism and dedication of Hispanic nurses by providing equal access to educational, professional, and economic opportunities for Hispanic nurses.” The three KILN Scholars participated in professional presentations, gained leadership skills, and volunteered in a one day event to help the Stop Hunger Now organization. They also presented a poster entitled “Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing” Preparing the Next Generation of Diverse Nurse Leaders with Dr. Viola Benavente, Assistant Professor in the Connell School of Nursing and KILN mentor.
As the students reflected on their experiences, they realized the conference affected them in various ways. Alexandra Paz felt like a changed person after attending the conference. She explains: “The speakers and nurses I met encouraged me to focus on becoming the best nurse I can possibly be. I am motivated to fulfill my full potential not only as a nurse but also as a person.” She also learned how the enhanced Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, issued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, can be applied in health care delivery systems, as well as how the Health Insurance Marketplace, an application initiated by the Affordable Care Act, will function to provide affordable coverage to individuals and families. For Yesenia, the conference provided opportunities to strengthen her relationships with and find inspiration from NAHN members, especially those she met at last year’s conference. She found the story from Henry Cruz, endnote speaker, to be particularly touching. He lost his sight due to diabetic retinopathy upon graduating from college. However, he faced this adversity and became a diabetes advocate and healthcare consultant. Yesenia noted that, “When he revealed he works with people from St. Mary’s in the Bronx, the same dangerous neighborhood I have been raised in, he really touched my heart. Dedication and warmth are two things that are not as easy to find in my neighborhood, and at that moment I appreciated him very much.” The presentations helped Andrea Lopez understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act for nurses and for the Hispanic community. At the same time, the speakers reinforced Andrea’s goal of pursuing further education to become a nurse practitioner. Along with the other students, she felt enthused: “As a nursing student, conferences like this one can change your future by allowing you to share experiences and receive encouragement from others. I’ve been motivated to move quickly, improvise, and seize opportunities.”