Pursuing Education As A Student Of Color
Growing up, I never found it peculiar that my family were minimally educated immigrants, that spoke little to no English with heavy accents. Most of the families around me were also in the same situation so it was a part of the culture I was raised in. My family, consisting of my grandmother and her four children, left Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico after receiving their green cards. They then arrived in the United States from the Puerto Rico when I was only 3 months of age, and although they were unfamiliar with the language, they made an avid effort to forge a new and better life for themselves. Because they were new to the area and struggling financially, my family settled in the most affordable area they could find which was Lancaster Pennsylvania. Although Lancaster may not sound as a bad environment due to its stereotypes of being an Amish country, it is not what I experienced growing up. There was a lot of violence, drugs, and crime in the part of Lancaster where I grew up. I know it is not as bad as Chicago or Chester, but my home had an impact on me.
Over the next four years of college, the many layers of my diversity unfolded in a jarring manner. It took me some time to integrate my experiences as a first-generation Latinx female student. I did not find many other students who shared my background when I began my undergraduate studies at the Susquehanna University. Not only did I stand out as one of the few people of color, I was also an outlier socioeconomically. Before going to college, I went to a boarding school, known as Milton Hershey School, for underprivileged children, which was the only way I could afford to even go to college. This affected how I began to feel about my overall life. As a student of color who was also socioeconomically disadvantaged, I began to feel inferior around my classmates, along with the feeling that I did not belong because unlike many of the students at my institution, I had to work for everything I had my entire life. Over time, I began to grasp that although I had a different racial and socioeconomic background than most of my classmates, these differences were not negative or unfavorable. My distinct experiences allowed me to stand out from many other students at my university. These experiences became sources of pride and strength. My background brought a fresh voice to the classroom setting, something that my professors greatly valued. As I fostered my perspective, I learned to develop and utilize this voice by speaking up and adding my diverse experiences to class discussions. I frequently contributed to discussions examining the social and academic difficulties students of color face on predominantly White college campuses. I began to understand that I needed to embrace my diversity rather than suppress it. Consequently, I began to value my multifaceted identity and came to trust in the significance of my diversity.
As I pursue my nursing education, my experiences, not just as a person of color, but as a biracial and bicultural daughter of low-income Latinx immigrants, can help me contribute to the environment of working as a nurse as well as working in a hospital. Diversity of thought and perspective are vital in helping others of different backgrounds, and my unique voice can serve as an asset, allowing me to represent and bring forth the experiences of those who may not have a platform from which to do so.
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