Betty Beza is a senior at Seattle U pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She is an active member of the university community, where she has served as an advisor for the Collegia program, Mentorship Officer for her BSN cohort and Co-President of the African Student Association. After graduation she plans to spend 2 to 3 years working as a Pediatric or ED nurse then pursue graduate studies to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
The Shinnyo-en Foundation, a Japanese Buddhist organization based in San Francisco, partners with the Center for Community Engagement to support current and recent undergraduates in discovering and/or honing their individual paths to peace through direct service. As a Fellow, Beza will work with a Seattle-based community partner for approximately 20 hours a week throughout the upcoming year as a way of exploring their vocational calling and contributing to the community.
Beza recently took some time to talk about how to she came to Seattle U and her fellowship project.
What drew you to pursue your BSN at Seattle U?
I learned about SU's nursing program during my senior year of high school… every summer, a faculty member and a nursing student from SU would come to my high school, Gashora Girl's Academy (Kigali, Rwanda), to teach a women's and reproductive health class and do some maternal and infant health projects in a nearby community. It was moving to see that students can apply their knowledge by implementing their own projects of interest and have all the support from the faculty and the school at large; this was huge for me since I was already involved in community and service at my high school. It was after learning about the program's focus on social justice and its emphasis on a holistic approach in patient care that I knew SU's nursing program was for me. Additionally, I have always attended small schools with small size classes, which is exactly what SU offers. I knew I would learn best in a place where each individual/community member brings something to the table. The small class sizes in my program allow me to learn from my professors and also from the amazing contributions and experiences of my nursing peers. If I had to choose again, I would still choose the SU nursing program, not only because of the program's good reputation, but also for the available opportunities that allow students to engage and put their knowledge into practice.
How did you become interested in the topic of your scholarship?
Community and service have always been my biggest interests and are highly connected to my passion for health care and nursing; however, it was not until my community health class, last spring, that I made up my mind to become a Shinnyo-en fellow at the Center for Community Engagement. In my class, we explored deeply the many challenges and disproportions that influence the overall health care of individuals and communities, what those disparities mean to us as future health care providers and our role in addressing them to improve the health care outcomes of our patients, especially patients from marginalized communities. A big aspect of our role as student nurses and future providers is advocating for our patients and communities by meeting them where they are as part of the comprehensive care we provide. My program has offered me various clinical/hospital experiences where I provided bedside care for patients. It is possible that as a nursing professional I will encounter most patients at the bedside, however I believe there is a lot I can learn from the lives of my patients in their communities outside the hospital that can tell me a lot about their health care outcomes. I believe there is a lot to learn from working with communities, especially minority communities, that can help me better serve their needs when I become a nurse. There is more than just the pathophysiology and symptoms that patients present with; there is racism, inequalities, immigration, financial status and health habits. I need to be aware of these factors to provide the holistic health care everyone deserves. By working with those communities, I am preparing myself to serve my patients holistically and gain a better understanding of where they are coming from. I am very excited to serve as a Shinnyo-en fellow during my senior year, and very excited for all the learning experiences that I am about to embark on.
What are your project goals? What do you hope to accomplish as an end result?
As part of my fellowship, I will be working with a local non-profit organization that serves marginalized communities with a history of homelessness. These organizations provide them with resources to ease their transition to long-term stable housing. The resources range from low income housing, health-related services, financial services and nutrition programs to help them achieve sustainable development and attain a positive, healthy life outcome. Most members of the communities I will be working with already have, or are at high-risk of developing, chronic diseases… obesity, asthma, mental health and substance-related problems, as well as domestic violence are most prevalent in those populations. I will be working to help advance their health care outreach program by developing an information model that can be shared with those families to support them in making positive lifestyle choices as they transition to stable long-term housing.