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Reaching Beyond Boundaries to Care for Medically Underserved Communities

Aracely DuerkopWhen I was a sixteen-year-old girl living in the deep Peruvian rainforest, I experienced the loss of close friends and relatives due to preventable diseases such as malaria. The lack of resources and education in the Amazon rainforest in Peru resulted in too much sickness and death. Having to witness death all around me due to the lack of essential health care resources germinated in me an interest in a healthcare career. At that point, I realized education was the only way to escape poverty and sickness, but also that education must be shared with courage. Knowing the limitations of my environment, I bravely—maybe naively—ventured to Lima, Peru to seek out better opportunities.

After finishing high school in Lima, I faced the reality that I couldn’t go to college because my mother was a single mom who barely had money for our basic needs. I started working as a nanny hoping to save enough money for college. As a live-in nanny raising a child from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm six days a week, I found my two hundred dollars per month salary inadequate for my rent, let alone a chance to continue my education. Luckily, the family for whom I worked as a nanny brought me to the United States on one of their vacations. I decided to take a chance and stay in the US as a nineteen-year-old who didn’t know how to speak English, and without knowing anyone.

After living in the United States for nearly two years, I was fortunate to meet my future husband and then have three beautiful children. Being a mother of three children isn’t easy, but it is the most wonderful thing that has happened in my life. Although nothing can replace the love I have for my husband and children, I felt something was missing; therefore, I strived to continue my education as a nurse. Although my journey may seem fictional, my determination to pursue my dream to become a nurse is very real.

My experiences help me understand that sickness has no limits despite economic status or national borders. After finishing my bachelor’s in nursing, I want to continue my education seeking a DNP degree, with a family nurse practitioner specialty. The degree in advanced practice in nursing will hopefully lead me to contribute to knowledge and new medical interventions to prevent, treat, and cure diseases, which will benefit forgotten rural communities, and underrepresented populations. The reason I want to reach out to those communities is that it is in my DNA to go beyond the set boundaries that so often limit minority populations, such as the Hispanic community. It is my desire to move outward selfishly that makes my attributes of leadership and diversity match—in my opinion—those that distinguish my passion from other students.

A major in nursing with a minor in public health coincides with my desire to work in the community. I feel honored due to this commitment and I look forward to giving back to society. As a Hispanic nursing student, I seek to be part of the bridge between the patient and the healthcare provider. I want to use my language and professional knowledge in the field to serve the Hispanic population.

In the intersection of the future with the past advancement begins, and I am now ready to pursue my healthcare career aspirations, armed with knowing I have overcome many obstacles in the past without forgetting the roots of my goals deep in the Peruvian rainforest.

We are proud to announce Aracely Duerkop is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column) and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

LatPro Admin

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