September 23, 2021 at 9:42 am #989Berko OkaforParticipant
This is my first post on here but after exploring this website, I decided to join and create a post of my own to see if maybe I can encourage others.
I am Berko, a licensed Nurse Practitioner in South Florida and owner of a successful nursing start-up. My success did not happen over night. I am writing this post to hopefully provide some more motivation to others who are struggling with finding themselves in their profession or have lost their faith and motivation to push through hard times.
I grew up in a not so good neighbourhood to immigrant parents who came to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago to create a better life. We did not have a lot of money and lived pay check to pay check, but my parents did everything they could to always make sure we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. I did not go to the best schools. I remember in high school there was a shooting every other week. Some sort of gang violence always going on. I have lost classmates due to this violence. I remember a time where I was talking to friends in front of the school and shooting broke out right to where I was standing. I remember being pulled into a classroom by one of the teachers when it took place. Crazy and scary times.. but was our normal unfortunately growing up around there.
I saw how hard my parents worked. They constantly pounded in my brain the importance of education. Despite my surroundings, I was determined to succeed. I was not going to be a product of my environment and studied hard. My way out started at 17 years old. I applied to the University of Miami my senior year in high school, one of the best universities in the State of Florida and also a private university. Plenty of people tried to discourage me. I was told I was just the average compared to the current students at the University of Miami. Those type of comments definitely hit me hard. But I still applied and wrote my admission essay based on change I would have liked to see in my local area. In my admission essay, I wrote about the violence that has occurred taking plenty of classmates away from us and could have even take my own life. I also included lyrics from the rapper Tupac’s song “No Changes.” I wrote about the local war in our own neighbourhood and compared it to the War in the Middle East. That admission essay landed me not only to this university but also a scholarship as well.
Nursing School was HARD. But l completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 2012 and passed my Nursing Boards that same year. I was a Registered Nurse by 21 years old and was also a first generation student. I am the first in my family to receive a college degree. I went back to the University of Miami and graduated in 2015 with Master of Science in Nursing Degree in 2015. I became a Nurse Practitioner by the age of 25. My father had been pushing me to get my doctorate’s degree shortly after graduating in 2015. But I WAS SO TIRED! So I held off from going back. My father then passed in 2017 which is a pain that I wish on no one. I started to lose my faith, was having a hard time working as a Nurse Practitioner (I was one of the Nurse Practitioners for the Miami Transplant Institute at the time). I felt like I was able to save so many patients in the hospital, but could not even save my own father. On top of that all of my sick patients only reminded me of him. I had hit rock bottom with my faith.
One night, late at night, I got in the car and drove to the University of Miami and parked by the dorm that my dad helped me move into as an 18 year old first generation student. I sat in my car and cried. But then I remembered how far I have come in my life to break the chains of struggle in my family… I could not lose myself although I was grieving. I resigned from my position at the Miami Transplant Institute and took another position in a large healthcare system South Florida which has been much healthier for mental health after the trauma from his death. I also did what he always wanted me to do.. go back for my doctorate’s degree. I will be starting the PhD program this August. On top of that, I opened my own business, where I provide helpful tips and guidance to student nurses and our current nurses (as I remember very well how hard nursing school is and how hard it is be a nurse). I enjoy being a Nurse Mentor to our future healthcare heroes and current healthcare heroes who need guidance.
So in telling my story, I am hoping to motivate others who have lost their faith in world and ready to give up on everything. I promise you there is a light at the end of the tunnel and can say as a true testimony that growth does come with pain.
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