Antonette Shaw

May 2010
Class of 2011


I believe this about nursing…“The nursing profession will continue to revolutionize the provision of healthcare to underserved populations.”

Throughout my academic career, my interests in health have dominated my educational goals. Since my freshman year of college, I found myself considering a career as a nurse practitioner and was privileged to have exposure to courses that allowed me to embrace a more active role in understanding the sciences. However, I was also extremely fascinated with educational studies and Spanish language and made it a point to complement my science courses with the respective major and minor. For me, education is an important part of health care, and essential to improving the overall disparities in the health care system and provision worldwide. I also wanted to focus specifically on working with the Latino population, and took a more practical approach to my studies by moving to Guatemala after graduating from college with the intention of solidifying my language skills.

I first arrived in Guatemala under the auspices of Somos Hermanos, with the intention of staying for only six months. A student organization for future health care providers, Somos Hermanos focuses on exposing students to barriers other than language that influence health care for Latino patients in the U.S. Those six months, however, turned into nearly three years, once I became connected with Primeros Pasos (“First Steps”), a nonprofit organization and rural clinic that focuses on providing integrative health care in rural areas through both curative and preventative methods. For the first six months, I worked as a health educator for children in the communities, teaching a variety of primary school health classes. After a year and a half of living in Guatemala, and fulfilling various roles within Primeros Pasos, I was offered the position of general director. Needless to say, it was an incredibly rewarding but also extremely challenging opportunity. From finding sufficient funds to continue operating on a shoestring budget, to daily supervision of medical and educational programs for some 15,000 community members, I learned a tremendous amount about health in underā€served populations. It was also during this time that I realized that the thought of being a nurse practitioner was what really still inspired me. Closer patient interaction, a focus on preventative care, and the freedom and flexibility offered by the master’s degree fit fluidly into the type of work I want to do and the care I hope to provide.

With these experiences, I have recently been able to connect specifically with the University of Pennsylvania whose motto is “care to change the world.” With their awareness for the necessity of providing proper care to underrepresented groups, I know that Penn will be an excellent source of achieving that goal. Furthermore, with the aid of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholarship, I have the opportunity to pursue an excellent private university education.

Through this program, the financial limitations that could have kept me from being able to explore the best resources available, now opens up the door for future nurses like myself to revolutionize health care worldwide.