The news cycle was much different a year ago when Kassidy submitted her application to the American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) for consideration to complete her final year of undergraduate work. The biggest news stories in the summer of 2019 did not necessarily impact tribal communities as we have seen COVID-19 devastate communities and families — particularly those in Navajo Nation. Cases are rising daily and there is not a more honorable, challenging, and self-sacrificing profession than that of a nurse during a pandemic.
Kassidy is Navajo from the Whippoorwill community, and she attended her elementary and secondary education 30 miles from her rural home. Finishing high school in 2012, she had a plan in place to pursue her nursing degree but, as she puts it: “it was not so straightforward… it took me four years to complete pre-requisites.” She stayed determined and kept her academics a priority, being encouraged by family — particularly her mother who is also a nurse. “As a nurse, I would like to work in the fields of pediatrics, public health, and women’s health.” After her spring 2020 graduation, Kassidy plans to take the nursing licensure exam and return home to work at the local Indian Health Service hospital.
She recognizes her strengths and weaknesses (her word not ours), openly sharing her bouts of self-doubt, but she knows that her strengths and support system will help her realize her goals. “I possess a caring and understanding attitude, respectful demeanor, resourcefulness, and adaptability,” which are all important characteristics for a nurse.
Besides carrying a full load of coursework and a practicum her spring 2019 semester, Kassidy also applied for scholarships and worked a part-time job to help cover her school and living expenses. “In addition to tuition, I am responsible for paying for books, scrubs, program fees, rent, groceries, gas, and travel expenses when I go home. Although I have struggled financially, having the opportunity to continue my education and become a nurse has been worth the time and effort.”
AIEF is pleased to share that Kassidy was approved for funding for her 2019-20 academic year and most recently added “Bachelor of Science, Nursing” to her resume, graduating on May 9th (virtually of course). She sent a graduation photo and a thank you to AIEF and donors like you for helping her get to the home stretch:
“I would like to acknowledge and thank the American Indian Education Fund program and it’s donors for all their work. Their support has helped make it possible for me to continue my education & reach my goals of becoming a nurse. I plan to give back to my community in the future through nursing and hope to help my community realize their power in achieving healing and wellness. I would also like to dedicate this degree to my parents, nephews, niece & the many role models that have offered so much of their time, advice, words of encouragement, prayers and kindness.”
— Kassidy, Class of 2020