Written by Ana Saavedra
In May 2020, I earned my Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and became a pediatric nurse practitioner. But that’s the highlight—I am a first-generation Mexican American and first-generation college student from Little Village, a low-income community in Chicago, IL. This accomplishment came with many obstacles, disappointments, and sacrifices… where I learned resilience and relied on my support system. My upbringing became my foundation.
I witnessed health disparities in action
Growing up in Little Village fostered my desire to serve my community as a primary care provider.I was surrounded by my rich Mexican culture… but also by social injustice and health disparities. I saw how low health literacy and language barriers prevented families and providers from working together, for example. It shaped my commitment to social justice through primary care.
Later, my resolve strengthened with two clinical placements in DC where I served mostly low-income and immigrant Spanish-speaking families. Every day I was reminded of my community, so I knew that I made the right career choice.
My mother’s reminder: “Las cosas buenas toman esfuerzo y trabajo”
My mother’s words of encouragement were “Las cosas buenas toman esfuerzo y trabajo,” which translates into “Great things take work.” I would remind myself of how far I have come, of all the challenges I have faced, and how much work I have put into my studies whenever I felt imposter syndrome coming on—the phenomenon where a person feels inadequate despite their overall success. It affects minorities and women more due to a lack of representation.
There were times that I felt like an outsider because there were so few Latina college and doctoral students. There were many times where I felt like giving up and would question my place at Johns Hopkins. I will be the professional role model that I never had for future generations.
My parents can finally live their American Dream through me
Graduating was a huge moment for my family and me. I took my graduation pictures under the Little Village arch because being a first-generation Latina from Little Village taught me resilience, determination, and ambition. I am now ready to take all my knowledge, skills, and experiences back to Little Village, so I can fulfill my goal of serving my community as a Latina health care provider, and so my parents can finally live their American Dream through me.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ANA SAAVEDRA
Ana Saavedra, DNP, CPNP is a graduate of the DNP-PNP Primary Care Program from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She worked as a Neonatal ICU nurse in Chicago prior to relocating to Baltimore for her DNP program. She completed her clinical practices serving low-income and Spanish-speaking families. She now lives in Chicago, IL where she is currently planning on working in low-income communities.