Ever since I can remember, the phrase, “Work towards a bigger goal,” has been a driving force in my parent’s lives. My parents and I came to the United States when I was six years old and their biggest goal at the time was to provide me with the best education and the most clear path to success and to build a better life for themselves than they had growing up. I have become the individual I am today because of my parents and their determination to reach their goals. They have instilled in me the values of hardwork, commitment, and integrity. My entire life, they have emphasized upon me that I could do anything I wanted to and I was fully capable of reaching any goals I set for myself. When I got into high school, my parents told me my biggest goal should be to figure out what I wanted to do as a career. Up till a couple months ago, however, I had little to no idea what my specific plans after high school were. I did not have a bigger goal to work towards.
During freshman year, my school counselor met with me and told me that most people figure out what they want to do as a career in their first three years of high school. They said that the best way to figure out what you are interested in doing for the rest of your life is to join clubs and take classes that range in different subjects and topics. I decided to take their advice and involved myself in various different clubs and classes in school particularly, Photojournalism, Technical Theatre and Interact, among others. This mixture of classes and clubs exposed me to many different groups of people, many different interests, as well as, many different potential careers.
Technical Theatre was part of the drama department and I learned how to operate the technical equipment and systems involved in the production of sound and lights. It was a really interesting experience for me and I met so many new people that I became friends with and I gained a lot of skills from my involvement, but it wasn’t something I saw myself doing after high school.
I joined Interact, which I still continue in my senior year of high school as well. Interact is a service-based organization that does fundraisers and activities to raise money for different causes such as the construction of water wells in Africa. Throughout the years, I gained leadership positions in Interact, and was a committee leader for one of the events that we held and overall, thoroughly involved myself in the club. Being a part of Interact made me think how good it would be to be able to help people as a career and I started exploring that idea, but I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted to do.
The decision to take Photojournalism, or Yearbook, was a last minute one, yet it had a huge impact on my plans for the future. In ninth grade, I had originally signed up for Newspaper, which was the prerequisite course for Yearbook, but the class was over capacity, and they had to let some students go over to the Yearbook class and skip Newspaper entirely. I hadn’t given any thought to taking Yearbook before, and on the first day of school, when the teacher asked whoever wanted to go over to the other class to raise their hands, I didn’t raise mine. Then, as she was sending them out the door to the other class, I made a split-second decision and asked her if I could switch as well. The decision to switch to yearbook was one of the best I have ever made. Being in Yearbook gave me the opportunity to learn how to design using different programs, to meet and talk to different groups of people and get to know their interests, while simultaneously developing my people skills and the way I interact with different types of people. It gave me the opportunity to be a bigger part of the school and leave a lasting legacy. Getting involved in Yearbook influenced me by confirming the thought in my mind that I should do something where I am out in the field and am able to talk and interact with people.
Being a part of these clubs and classes, made me realize that I wanted to do something where I could help people in some way and interact with people but I was still at a loss for what specific career line I should choose.
The one experience that led me to realize what I wanted to do in the future was at the Adler Center for Caring, a hospice in Aldie, Virginia. A hospice is where people who have an incurable illness or have limited time to live can stay to live out the rest of their lives with the maximum amount of comfort. It allows loved ones to spend time in a peaceful setting with their patient and establish the “letting go process.” I started volunteeting there during the summer before my senior year and my job was Patient Care, which is where you go with one of the nurses and help to take care of the patient and their needs. On my third day as a volunteer, I was shadowing a nurse and following her as she was making her afternoon rounds. We went to all of the patients rooms and checked up on them and their families to see if they needed anything. We helped change bedsheets, empty bedpans, restock their supply cabinet, bring them their medications and make them as comfortable as possible. That day, as the nurse and I were making our rounds, we stopped by the room of this old and frail man who needed to be turned to his side to allow air into his lungs. We met his family, his daughter and her husband, and they were smiling and seemed excited because apparently, his condition was improving considerably. They were a friendly couple with two daughters my age and they mentioned how interesting they thought it was that I was doing this and how many things I could learn from this experience. The old man himself was hooked up to an oxygen tank and the tubes were connected to his mouth and he looked very tired and sickly. He was still awake and moving around but he was only halfway conscious. We turned him over to the side, ensured his airways were clear and turned him back. We changed his bedpan and let the hopeful family know that we would be back soon. About 20 minutes later, the nurse was beeped by a red flashing button on her waist. I realized that there was something wrong and as she sped away, I followed her into the room we had just been in. There near the door stood the frantic daughter of the frail old man who was saying that his heartbeat was slowing and his oxygen levels were dropping. The lady was crying and screaming while her husband tried to calm her down and the nurse paged the doctor and tried to stabilize the old man. I felt like I was seeing everything happen in slow motion. I saw the nurse rush around, the doctors and the medics come in. They said that there was nothing that could be done and instead of leaving the dying man to be taken care of by the doctors, the nurse knelt down beside the bed and held onto the old man’s trembling hand and bowed her head and the man’s daughter did the same on his other side. I watched as the man’s hand stopped trembling and relax in the hands of the nurse. I watched as the old man’s chest, which was moving up and down at a steady rate only a couple minutes ago, barely moved up and down and finally, stopped moving completely. When the heart rate monitor started beeping and the line was straight, it was silent. No one moved at first, and then all at one once, the wife started crying and screaming and she had to be taken outside and the body was being removed from the room by the doctors with the help of a coroner, and the nurse was still sitting there holding the hand of the man. She got up a couple minutes later and noticed me standing there and smiled as if it was all okay and took me to the break room and told me to take a quick break.
When she came back and got me, I was surprised to find that we were going back to that same room. However, this time, it was in order to provide comfort to the patient’s family. The daughter and her husband were sitting on the balcony and crying and they were silent. I didn’t want to interrupt the silence so, I went and sat down next to her and put my hands over hers. It was my first time trying to comfort a patient’s family member like that so I hoped she wouldn’t pull away or be offended. She didn’t try to ungrasp from my hand and instead we just continued sitting there. Then, after a while, she started talking. She started to tell me all the good things she remembers about her dad and all the memories they shared and how it was his time and he had a long and fulfilling life. I didn’t say anything but instead I just listened to her and let her talk about and remember her memories and experiences with her father. This whole event had a huge impact on me because I was shocked at how I saw the old man twenty minutes before he died and it seemed like he was improving and his family hoping for his recovery to watching the life leave his body and his family’s reaction. If I had not been there that day, I never would have gotten to see that lady and her father and make the connection with her that I did and make her feel better like I was able to do.
I was hugely impacted by the way the nurse reacted to everything that was going on and how she handled the situation. She was able to make him comfortable even in the last moments of life and ensure that he had a serene and peaceful death. After that experience, I realized that the nurse embodied everything I wanted to be in the future and decided to pursue a career in Nursing.
Throughout high school, my goal was to figure out what career I wanted to pursue and now that I have decided, my goals are to focus on my studies in the remaining part of high school and well as college, continue to help in the community and stay involved and continuously develop my interpersonal skills. I want to be able to use my education as the pathway to my career but also to help me become a self-sufficient woman who is prepared for life. My goals are to work with patients and ensure that they are in the most comfortable state they can be in and feel like they are being taken care of and also, work with families of patients that are in grief or worrying about their loved one and help them to feel better and provide them with comfort. I think the best way for me to do this is to become a Registered Nurse.
Now, the phrase that was a driving force for my parents has become the same for me. The phrase, “Work towards a bigger goal,” has become something I believe in and I try to implement in my daily life. I hope that if I get the chance to attend James Madison University, I will be pushed to always work towards something bigger and reach my goals.
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