Shahnaz Singh-Kandah

May 2015
Class of 2016


I believe this about nursing ... no matter where you come from you can always make a difference. 

        There are several areas in the United States that are medically underserved. Growing up in such an area I can attest to the desperate need for health care professionals with access to the latest research, tests, interventions, medications and cures. When you are forced to see your own family member receive inadequate healthcare due to understaffing, lack of current treatment algorithms, and other issues associated with underserved hospitals, it triggers a burning desire to utilize all of your resources to ameliorate this issue.

It was 10:30 pm on Monday April 30, 2007, and I was just leaving the hospital as I had done every day for the past week. While the doctors at the local hospital were struggling to determine a diagnosis for my mother's deteriorating health I spent my time combing through medical books. I was praying to stumble upon something that would allow me to gain a better understanding of what was happening with mom. I always had a deep interest in medicine and at this moment the pursuit of a diagnosis and treatment defined me.
As I stepped inside my lonely house, I thought about nothing else but sleep. Just as I laid down the doorbell rang with a police officer instructing me to call the hospital immediately. The doctor answered and explained that soon after I left my mother started to feel ill and eventually fainted. She was declared dead despite repeated attempts to revive her. The phone instantaneously dropped from my hands. My mother, the only parent I had ever known, was gone. There was nothing that I or anyone could do to change that.
I began to make arrangements for the funeral service. My heart was breaking due to the loss of many things.  With my mom's death, I saw all of my dreams and goals disappear. I had just finished my first year of college and my life would never be the same. As much as I enjoyed school, I no longer knew if continuing would be an option. My entire world seemed to crumble as demands mounted. I realized my choices were to buckle beneath the weight of it all or gain strength to continue to address my curiosity with healthcare.  Finally, it was concluded that my mother was a victim of sarcoidosis; a disease that affects the organs of the body and has neither a cause nor a cure.
My mother's illness, death, and the search for answers that followed, have shown me how the healthcare system, especially in medically underserved areas, is in need of great improvement.  The journey has changed me from "victim" to "victor". I received my undergraduate degree and have decided to pursue another degree as a nurse. The Robert Wood Johnson Scholarship has helped given me the opportunity to continue developing a skill set in my pursuit to become a nurse. Ultimately, I would like to become part of a system that assures the equitable delivery of high quality healthcare for all people.