Bilingual justice to healthcare
Student of the Week: Paola Vallejo
“My goal is to become a registered nurse, hopefully somewhere up north because I am bilingual. I know more people speak English than Spanish, but when people of Hispanic descent or immigrants also show up it’s very hard for them to communicate with others. I want them to know there’s somewhere who speaks their language, to know there’s someone here that can help, and won’t look at them weird or discriminate because they look different or sound different."
Paola Vallejo knows the struggle of being a patient with a language barrier. That’s why she’s focusing on following her mother’s footsteps and going even further.
“My mother has a nursing degree and she was an immigrant so she couldn’t practice because of standards and testing,” She said. “Since she didn’t know English she couldn’t use her degree the way she wanted to be.”
The pursuit of education was a cornerstone of her upbringing.“So she always imposed it on me that I need to go to college I need to make a life of myself and be someone in this world,” Vallejo said. “That’s something that’s stuck with me since I was a little kid. So education has always been very important to me.”
She is pursuing an Associate of Science Degree in hopes to also become a nurse.
The Associate of Science Degree with a field of study in Biology offers students the opportunity to take a core curriculum of general education courses with an emphasis in Biology.
“My goal is to become a registered nurse, hopefully somewhere up north because I am bilingual,” Vallejo said. “I know more people speak English than Spanish but when people of Hispanic descent or immigrants also show up it’s very hard for them to communicate with others. I want them to know there’s somewhere there that speaks their language, to know there’s someone here that can help me and won’t look at me weird or discriminate because they look different or sound different.”
Equality in healthcare is something close to Vallejo’s heart.
When she was a child she spent time in hospitals with health programs. At the time she only spoke Spanish and remembers struggling to communicate with non-Spanish speaking staff.
“I think it’s so important because there’s so much racial bias in the healthcare world. There’s a lot of stories that have been coming out from people who are pre-med or even in the healthcare industry where they see people based on the color of their skin or just how they look without listening at first. They refuse health care to some and I think that is just so wrong. If you go into health care it’s to help people no matter what, not to discriminate because of your own racial bias.”The Rio Grande City native is slated to graduate in Fall 2022.
“Starr County is one of the poorest counties in the U.S,” She said. “So STC being here is also a very affordable option for a lot of people. Not a lot of people make a good income to send their kids away for college and most people depend on financial aid and loans. I think it’s such a good thing for them to be here and be so affordable and offer so many things for students and their families.”Her advice to potential students was to take the leap.
“I think they should totally go for it and it’s something that’s worth it in the long wrong,” Vallejo said. “I think that furthering your education, even if you’re not going to go into anything, you should at least take a couple of classes because it’s so good for you. You’ll learn things you didn’t learn in your house or in high school.”